Cannabis drug plea for MS sufferers

MULTIPLE Sclerosis sufferers should not be forced to risk jail by buying cannabis on the streets to alleviate their pain, an Essex-based charity has claimed.

MULTIPLE Sclerosis sufferers should not be forced to risk jail by buying cannabis on the streets to alleviate their pain, an Essex-based charity has claimed.

The Government has begun a consultation on the use of drugs and is considering re-classifying the substance back to a class-B drug.

The move came amid concerns about the impact stronger strains of cannabis being used in the UK could be having on people's health.

But Helen Yates, chief executive of the Colchester-based Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre, said Prime Minister Gordon Brown's recent announcement showed how important it was for the Government to fully-license Sativex - a cannabis-based pain-relief drug.


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She said: “ It is disgraceful that otherwise law-abiding people are being forced to break the law by obtaining cannabis which, in many cases, is the only substance to relieve their multiple sclerosis symptoms, which can include bladder problems, spasticity of muscles, pain and sleep issues.

“Yet again, the Government seems to be failing to distinguish between the medical and recreational use of cannabis.

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“If the Government would license Sativex, a cannabis-based drug recently developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, and made it easily available, then people with MS would not have to resort to using cannabis.”

Sanitex is licensed in Canada and can be imported through a complicated arrangement by doctors for individual patients, although this rarely happens.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We will be asking the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the classification of cannabis, given the increase in strength of some cannabis strains and their potential harms.

“It would be wrong to prejudge that review which shows how seriously we take our priority of reducing drug related harm.

“Our message has always been that cannabis is a harmful and illegal drug.

“Drug use, including cannabis, drug-related crime and drug-related harm have all fallen in recent years, but to tackle drugs in the most effective way we need to monitor and review the ways in which we reduce the harm caused by illegal substances.

n Anyone wanting “open, unbiased information” about cannabis-use in relation to Multiple Sclerosis should contact the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre on 01206 505444.

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