AN MP has called for a government review into the medicinal use of cannabis.
Drugs Minister Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, wants the Department of Health to consider broadening the range of medical conditions for which cannabis can be used.
The MP wants new laws passed that legalise the widespread use of the plant to relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions - including the side effects of chemotherapy, Crohn's disease and MS.
Mr Baker, who admits to smoking cannabis in the past, said he was uncomfortable that there were “credible people” who use cannabis to relieve their condition but had to break the law to help their health.
He said: “I think it is time to reconsider medicinal properties of cannabis, given what I have learnt in my role as a minister. I have seen more and more evidence that cannabis can provide genuine medical benefits to treat a number of conditions.
“There is a growing body of research that shows the medical properties of chemical components of cannabis. We should seriously consider whether it is valuable to treat conditions such as MS, glaucoma, chronic and neurogenic pain and the side effects from chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS treatments.”
Mr Baker said he had written to Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health, asking for a review into the benefits of cannabis and an easing of restrictions on the development of cannabis-based medicines.
The Lewes politician's call for a review comes weeks after scores of medicinal cannabis users met at a United Patients Alliance meeting in Brighton to share their stories on how the drug helped their various health conditions.
They included Michael Cutler, 63, from Hastings, who claims to have rid himself of liver cancer after taking cannabis oil.
Clark French, 28, from Brighton, revealed cannabis helped alleviate his chronic MS.
Mr French, of United Patients Alliance, said: “After meeting with Norman several times and explaining how medical cannabis helps, I feel very positive about his calls for a review. The fact he has backed it is a strong indicator we are on the right path when it comes to the medicinal use of cannabis and it is welcome the issue is being spoken about by Government officials.
“We have been busy planning our next campaign - organising more meetings and getting a structured way to work with everyone who wants to be involved. The response we have had is fantastic.”