Cannabis may be made legal, for medical use within two years, following a “very positive meeting” between the British Medical Association and the chief medical officer Sir Kenneth Calman.
The BMA called for the legalisation of cannabis-based drugs for medicinal use in a report published last autumn. The study acknowledged thousands of people resort to taking cannabis illegally in an attempt to ease afflictions such as glaucoma, muscle spasms and nausea.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, who met with Calman, said the CMO had given the green light for speeding up research enabling synthetic forms of the drug to be produced. These would be seen around the year 2000.
Dr Nathanson said various versions of the drug already existed in synthetic form. Procedures could now be designed to make the leap from research stage to actual treatment.
Patients would not be permitted to take raw cannabis, but the CMO’s backing of research into cabannoids could mean a turning point in the Government’s fundamental opposition to the legalisation of soft drugs.
In a separate move, a Select Committee is to examine the case for continuing to outlaw cannabis for medical and recreational use.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology is to collate evidence on the issue over the next few months, and is scheduled to publish its findings in October this year.
Lord Perry of Walton, who will head the inquiry, said the Committee would call for factual scientific evidence and reject “sociological prejudice”.