‘A Liberal Democrat minister called last night for cannabis to be legalised for medical use.
Norman Baker said the drug could help relieve symptoms for sufferers of conditions such as multiple sclerosis and help those having chemotherapy.
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But the Home Office minister’s suggestion was dismissed by a Coalition spokesman who pointed to ‘clear evidence cannabis can damage people’s mental and physical health’.
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Mr Baker’s comments are the latest in a series from Lib Dem ministers pressing for a softening of drugs laws.
Opponents of allowing cannabis for medical purposes insist it could be used as a back door to decriminalising the drug more widely.
But Mr Baker said there was a ‘growing body of research’ showing the ‘medical properties’ of cannabis.
He proposed the change in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt which was leaked to The Guardian newspaper.
‘It is time to reconsider the medicinal properties of cannabis, given what I’ve learned in my role as a minister,’ wrote Mr Baker.
‘I’ve 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.
‘I am uncomfortable that there are credible people I have met who tell me that cannabis is the only substance that helps relieve their condition. But not only are they stopped from accessing it officially but have to break the law to help their health.
‘Other countries recognise that cannabis does have medicinal benefit and we need to look again at this to help people who are ill. This is a quite separate matter from recreational use which is not at issue here.’
He suggested cannabis could be used to help conditions such as MS and glaucoma.
In addition, it could be used to combat the side-effects of treatment for cancer, Aids and Crohn’s disease.
Campaigners for wholesale changes to drugs legalisation welcomed his intervention’