Suffolk nurse leads fight for cannabis to be decriminalised in UK for medicinal use
Cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use, an Ipswich nurse has said.
Tracey Risebrow, vice chairwoman of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Suffolk branch, will raise the issue at the union’s annual congress starting this weekend in Belfast.
She will lead a motion calling for governments across the UK to be lobbied for the decriminalisation of cannabis for the treatment of some health conditions.
More than 40 countries have legalised cannabis in some form, following pressure from some patient groups who believe it has the potential to help them.
Attempts have since been made to change existing policy in the UK – but none have been successful.
Ms Risebrow said: “This motion is not about the decriminalisation of cannabis in its entirety but purely about its medicinal use.
“There’s evidence out there that it can make a difference to people with long-term and chronic conditions.
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“You currently have situations where people go abroad to get cannabis but when they come back to the UK to continue their treatment they are not allowed to have it.
“It is making people into criminals if they are procuring cannabis to help a loved-one.”
Ms Risebrow accepted the issue was controversial, with arguments against it including the risk of addiction or abuse of the system.
“Some people would point out it wouldn’t work for everybody, or for certain conditions,” she added. “Others may say if you’re going to decriminalise it for medical use, why don’t you decriminalise it for everything?
“So I’d acknowledge that as with any drug there can be long term issues, but when used for medicinal purposes under medical supervision it is something we should consider for patients who would benefit.”
Darryl Noe, from Ipswich, runs an organisation called Green Man Compassion where he grows cannabis and gives it away for free to unwell people.
His customers have a range of health conditions, including spinal injuries, cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Mr Noe said he backed calls for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use.
He said: “Sick people have the right to choose what medication they want.”