Welsh government votes to legalize medical cannabis

A majority of Welsh assembly members have voted in favor of legalizing medical cannabis.

Assembly members expressed concern that some people who are using cannabis to help with illness are putting themselves at risk of prosecution.

They say the clinical and anecdotal evidence on its benefits for patients is “compelling” and want the NHS in Wales to be able to make it available via a prescription.

Welsh Conservative AM Mark Isherwood, Labour AM Mike Hedges, and Plaid AMs Ms. Wood and Rhun ap Iorwerth called for the debate on Wednesday claiming that there is clinical evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis when used for medicinal purposes.

The result of the vote was that 31 assembly members backed calls for the Welsh government to lobby their UK counterparts to legalize cannabis for medical use, only two assembly members voted against and 18 abstained.

Conservative Mark Isherwood said: “We have met constituents living with a range of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, dystonia, and cancer, who find the benefit of using cannabis for medicinal purposes but by doing so they run the risk of prosecution.” Ms. Wood added: “The clinical and anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of cannabis for medicinal use is compelling.”

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething accepted that there is “some evidence that cannabis or its derivatives can have a role to play in managing chronic pain, anxiety, spasticity, and nausea and vomiting in the context of chemotherapy”. But added: “If you… make a raw form of the drug available, or a herbal form, they can’t know the potency of that,”

Although the vote clearly shows the opinion of the Welsh government, Wales does not have the legislative powers to make such a decision independently, and will now lobby their UK Government counterparts to push for changes to the cannabis laws.

But it’s not just the Welsh government pushing for medical cannabis to be made legal, a bill is currently on its way through Parliament which proposes the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK. It was introduced to parliament by Welsh MP Paul Flynn, who previously achieved notoriety after admitting to making cannabis tea in the Commons. Mr. Flynn has represented Newport West(Wales) Since 1987, he has served as shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Shadow leader of the House of Commons. He has backed the call by the assembly members for medical cannabis to be legalized

The result of the vote by the Welsh assembly may positively influence the second reading of Mr. Flynn’s bill when it is heard in the House of Commons on the 23rd of February, although the UK Government are currently officially opposed to legalization.

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