“I know nothing. I ask nothing. I understand nothing.”
This is the astonishing reality of the way the UK government is responding to the national outcry for access to cannabis as medicine. They are doing absolutely nothing.
Across the world a revolution is taking place as more and more jurisdictions are introducing legal access to medical cannabis. Medical professionals and patients alike are realising the huge benefits to be gained from re-opening access to this most valuable of medicines. Scientific research is proving beyond doubt that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine for a wide range of conditions. Many pharmaceutical companies are investigating different cannabinoids, extracts and therapies. Most of all, citizens are demanding access to a medicine that has been denied to them for no good reason and that can improve, even save the lives of people of all ages, from the baby with severe epilepsy to the grandparent suffering the effects of aging, even dementia. Cannabis can help improve and maintain good health in all of us.
Yet the UK government is not considering the evidence. Despite even a year long Parliamentary inquiry which recommended permitting access, the Department of Health has not considered nor even asked for any expert advice. My Freedom of Information request has established this beyond doubt. See here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/395319/response/965315/attach/html/2/1078680%20Reynolds.pdf.html
I have been pressing my MP, Sir Oliver Letwin, on this issue ever since I became his constituent two years ago. Early on he was an extremely powerful cabinet minster, generally recognised as number three in the government after David Cameron and George Osborne but he was swiftly sacked when Theresa May became prime minister. He has already announced he will not stand for re-election to the next Parliament.
Meeting with Sir Oliver Letwin MP
To be fair, Oliver has always listened to me politely and attentively. We have met on about half a dozen occasions and we frequently exchange emails. He has been more responsive to me than I had hoped and to begin with he told me he was investigating what was happening in government about the subject. His answer was that the evidence has been considered, expert advisors have been consulted and ministers have concluded that there is not a good case for reform.
I have pressed him again and again, shown him reams of evidence, shared stories with him from across the world, both of scientific research and patient testimonies. While always courteous towards me he has remained resolutely opposed. I could have given up long ago. Indeed, when I asked him why can’t we simply leave it to the professional judgement of doctors whether to prescribe it or not, he gave me an answer straight out of a ‘Yes Minster’ script. He said: “But then they would prescribe it.”
At the beginning of this year I asked him once again for assistance in putting me before a minister to advance my case. He replied:
“We have discussed this issue before, but I am happy to set out the reason why I will not support your proposals. The Department of Health have, as you know, considered this issue, have taken advice on it from their professional public health advisors, and have concluded that the gains in healthcare arising from the legalisation of medicinal cannabis (as opposed to cannabinoids) would not be sufficiently great to outweigh the risk of abuse.”
It seems that, at best, Sir Oliver is mistaken. I have written to him again asking for comments on the FOI response.
Whatever reply I now receive, I urge everyone to get on to their MP about this. It is a scandal. There can be no doubt that it is irresponsible and negligent that the Department of Health is so clearly failing in its duty to the country. That’s not to say how very cruel and inhumane this failure is or how much money legal medical cannabis could save the NHS. Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, must be called to account for this.
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