Scottish MPs to meet with medicinal cannabis activists to discuss legalisation

  • Thousands of medicinal cannabis patients and activists are holding a protest outside Scottish Parliament tomorrow
  • MPs from across the political spectrum will meet with protestors to discuss legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes
  • Speakers will include SNP’s Marie Todd, the Scottish Shadow Health Minister Anas Sarwar, medical patients and many more!
  • The event starts at 9am, but those wanting to attend are encouraged to arrive an hour earlier

Thousands of people are expected to attend one of the UK’s largest cannabis protests tomorrow.

Medical marijuana advocates from Scotland and all across the UK are holding a meeting with Scottish MPs to discuss legalising cannabis in Scotland. The protestors are hoping that the event will add to the growing pressure on Scottish MPs to permit the sickest and most vulnerable members of our society the choice in the medication they take.

The SNP has previously backed the decriminalization of medicinal cannabis, even requesting Westminster to devolve

The SNP already overwhelmingly voted to back decriminalizing cannabis for medicinal use at its last conference, demanding the UK Government in Westminster devolve powers to Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) so it can pass the reform.

There’s an impressive guest list for the event, with a wealth of politicians, activists and patients set to attend and speak at the protest.

The enigmatic Maree Todd from the SNP is sure to be a highlight. The Scottish shadow Health Minister, Anas Sarwar is also expected to give a speech.

Miles Briggs MSP (Conservative), Alex Cole Hamilton MSP (Lib Dems), Councillor Martha Wardrop (Scottish Greens), Bill Mair (Solidarity candidate) and Gill Stranock, a registered nurse and a SNP candidate make up the rest of the political line-up.

Eleven European countries and 24 US states already allow people to use the drug to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms.

While it is important that such high-ranking Scottish politicians will be in attendance, the most important demographic of the event is the medicinal cannabis patients. The fact that Dr Fiona Watson, a consultant psychiatrist at the NHS, will be attending speaks volumes. Also in attendance will be Jim Murphy, a member of LEAP UK and a former Strathclyde police officer, proving that the gulf between police and patient can easily be bridged.

Lynn Cameron, a terminal brain cancer survivor, Johnathan MacLeod, a MS patient and

Harvey Leo, who uses cannabis to help her deal with her fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis and  coeliac disease, will also be making speeches to show that cannabis truly can be used medicinally, often proving more effective and safer than traditional pharmaceutical medications.

Speaking ahead of the protest, Harvey Leo told MMJ just how important this protest could be: “If Scotland can make the change, the rest of the UK will have to follow.

“This is very promising not just for people in Scotland but the whole of the UK.”

Harvey made clear that while many, if not all, of the attendees and speakers already agree that cannabis needs to be legalized for medicinal purposes, the main aim of the protest is to  help the medical marijuana movement grow: “Between the protest outside and the meeting inside we hope that they will finally listen to us.

“Everyone who is attending the meeting have already agreed that change needs to happen, this is to discuss how we take it forward.”

“The group’s main aim is to make real legislative change and to ensure Scotland get drug policy control in line with devolved health powers.”

The legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been a long-drawn-out issue, which Harvey was all too aware of: “This has been talked to death already, people are educated and aware and have been for a very long time.

“They [Scottish Parliament] will have no choice to take on board the points we will be making, I’m quite prepared to lock them all in the room till they have!”

For Harvey, it is not the politician speakers who are most vital to the protest, but rather the medical patients who will be there to share their story with the world: “Mostly the politicians will be there to listen.  We have 5 medical users each with their own story to tell.

“Damien Forest who is the young man who put forward the motion at the STUC Conference that was passed with amazing support from unite and Unison unions.”

For Harvey, as with most medicinal cannabis users, the issue is mainly about choice; their personal choice: “I should get to decide what’s best for me, not a bunch of corrupt men and women in suites who have never met me before!”

Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance in the eyes of the British Government, meaning it has no medicinal properties. The simple fact that so many speakers who treat their various diseases and illnesses with cannabis are attending the event should prove that this argument holds no water.

Maree Todd, for the SNP, Miles Briggs, for the Scottish Conservatives, Labour’s Anas Sarwar, the Lib Dems Alex Cole-Hamilton,and Councillor Martha Wardrop, for the Scottish Greens, are due to attend the event on 27 April.

Eleven European countries and 24 US states already allow people to use the drug to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms.

The House of Commons all party parliamentary group on drugs reform last year recommended cannabis should be made legal in the UK for medicinal uses after it held an inquiry into its potential to help patients. Its report called on the UK Government to introduce a system that grants people access to cannabis for medical reasons and to decriminalise the growing of small amounts at home for the same purposes.

The group took evidence from more than 600 patients and medical professionals and commissioned a consultant neurologist, Prof Mike Barnes, to review published research.

His review found “good evidence” cannabis can help with chronic pain, muscle spasms often associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea and vomiting, particularly when caused as a side-effect of chemotherapy.

The inquiry heard scores of patients had sought out cannabis to relieve their symptoms but often found it impossible to get medical guidance as to how they should take the drug.

MSPs from across the political spectrum will hear demands to legalise cannabis for medical use when they attend a summit on the issue in Holyrood this month.

The event’s organiser Bernadette McCreadie hopes the meeting, which will also be attended by clinicians, will put pressure on the Scottish Government to move forward with plans to allow the drug to be used by patients with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Delegates at the SNP’s autumn conference last year backed the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use and called on the UK Government to devolve the power to regulate the drug to the Scottish Parliament.

Cannabis is currently a Class B drug and people in possession of it can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Dealers can face up to 14 years.

McCreadie, 40, a former auxiliary nurse, told The National she has been using cannabis for around 18 months to alleviate the painful condition she suffers from, fibromyalgia. She said using cannabis oil as a salve or tincture helped make her illness more bearable.

However, she is angry the ban means she has to buy the substance illegally – a situation she says benefits criminals and exploits the sick.

“I have to get cannabis through illegal sources. By buying it off the street you are putting money into the hands of criminals. Sick and vulnerable people are in a situation where they can be absolutely conned by dealers,”

Maree Todd, for the SNP, Miles Briggs, for the Scottish Conservatives, Labour’s Anas Sarwar, the Lib Dems Alex Cole-Hamilton,and Councillor Martha Wardrop, for the Scottish Greens, are due to attend the event on 27 April.

Eleven European countries and 24 US states already allow people to use the drug to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms.

The House of Commons all party parliamentary group on drugs reform last year recommended cannabis should be made legal in the UK for medicinal uses after it held an inquiry into its potential to help patients. Its report called on the UK Government to introduce a system that grants people access to cannabis for medical reasons and to decriminalise the growing of small amounts at home for the same purposes.

The group took evidence from more than 600 patients and medical professionals and commissioned a consultant neurologist, Prof Mike Barnes, to review published research.

His review found “good evidence” cannabis can help with chronic pain, muscle spasms often associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea and vomiting, particularly when caused as a side-effect of chemotherapy.

The inquiry heard scores of patients had sought out cannabis to relieve their symptoms but often found it impossible to get medical guidance as to how they should take the drug.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We will watch the debate progress with interest”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Whilst the treatment and prevention of drug problems is devolved to the Scottish Government, the control of drugs and licensing for medical research is a reserved matter. As such, any decisions about the re-classification of cannabis for medicinal use, must currently be taken by the UK Government.”

The protest will begin at 9am tomorrow, although the organizers are encouraging attendees to arrive an hour earlier. For more information on the event, go to the official Facebook event page.

Will you be attending the event to show your support for the legalization of medicinal marijuana? Do you use cannabis medicinally? Let us know in the comments!