People should be allowed to use cannabis to help treat their medical conditions, Nick Clegg said today.
The Deputy Prime Minister said cannabis should be available in a ‘straightforward legal way’ to help people alleviate their symptoms.
Mr Clegg’s remarks came after new academic research revealed users of super-strength cannabis, known as ‘skunk, are three times more likely to suffer psychotic mental illness than people who don’t take the drug.
Overall, a quarter of new cases of psychosis can be blamed on the super-strength strain of cannabis, according to research published in the Lancet medical journal.
Mr Clegg this morning insisted he did not want to legalise ‘skunk’ and other dangerous drugs and insisted it was ‘bone-headed’ to lump all substances together.
Speaking on his weekly call-in on LBC, the Lib Dem leader said it ‘strongly’ agreed that cannabis for medicinal use should be given the go-ahead.
The Home Office has consistently rejected calls for cannabis to be legalised for medical use – pointing to ‘clear evidence cannabis can damage people’s mental and physical health’.
Opponents of allowing cannabis for medical purposes insist it could be used as a back door to decriminalising the drug more widely.
It came after a caller to his weekly phone-in on LBC said cannabis helped alleviate his MS.
The caller said cannabis was a ‘medicine’ which helped thousands of people.
He asked Mr Clegg: ‘Why are you not doing more about it? I would like to get your word – I would like to get an agreement from you – live on LBC that you are going to do more to make this a big issue because this really does affect people’s lives. We need access to legal medical cannabis.’
Mr Clegg replied: ‘Basically agree with you. I strongly agree with you that where there is a proven medicinal use for cannabis for instance we should make that easier for those to have access to it in a straightforward legal way in order to alleviate the symptoms that you clearly have that you know as a user are alleviated by the use of cannabis.’
He said Skunk was very different, because it had a link to psychosis.
Mr Clegg: ‘If you are anti the harm drugs do you should be pro-reform.’
‘This slightly bone-headed approach which says you treat all drugs in exactly the same way, you treat everyone who’s ever had access to drugs in exactly the same way – you chuck them in jail.
‘We chuck 500 people a year for using cannabis for personal use into jail. Yet, we allow the Mr Biggs who paddle the really nasty drugs, we let them walk scot free?
‘Let’s take a more intelligent approach – where there is a clear medicinal use, make sure you have access to that in a regulated way.
‘Come down much, much more heavily on the people who paddle the really harmful drugs – bring drugs out from the shadows.’
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