September 19, 2003
The Western Mail
A TORY AM wants Assembly Health Minister Jane Hutt to back the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
North Wales Tory AM Mark Isherwood wants to see the drug legalised for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer or HIV and Aids.
He said a visit to the Multiple Sclerosis Centre in Saltney, North Wales, three years ago left him convinced the drug has medicinal benefits for patients suffering painful and debilitating conditions.
Mr Isherwood said cannabis should be available on prescription like any other medicine and claimed current laws criminalised people who used the drug to relieve their pain.
He said, "I have become convinced that cannabis can be used as a beneficial therapy to combat pain and spasms and that it should be made available under prescription like any other medical drug.
"Clearly it is not a cure but it can be a complete relaxant. It is therefore criminal to criminalise these people in pain, as we do now, when they obtain or import their cannabis illegally.
"We must listen to the experts - the patients themselves."
Mr Isherwood said he was encouraged that Holland had legalised cannabis as a medicine and that pain-relief trials were being done on the drug in clinical centres such as Liverpool Walton Hospital.
Director of Saltney's Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Support Centre in Saltney Harri Owen-Jones said he "totally supports" pain relief for people with incurable conditions.
"Cannabis is known to provide that relief in many cases.
"We would support the medicinal use and control of this drug," he said.
Rhyl businessman Jeffrey Ditchfield was arrested in January 2002 after admitting giving cannabis chocolate to his quadriplegic friend Patrick Denning.
Mr Ditchfield was placed on bail for 12 months but the case was eventually dropped and he has since vowed to continue giving free cannabis to the sick as a form of pain relief.
The 43-year-old sells equipment from his shop, The Beggars Belief in Rhyl, that can be used to cultivate cannabis.
Ms Hutt declined to comment.
Copyright © 2003, The Western Mail