SNP Medical Cannabis
3 min

SNP Wants To Decriminalise Medical Cannabis

3 min
Legislation News

The Scottish National Party is aiming to pioneer cannabis decriminalisation within the United Kingdom on medical grounds. This political move seeks to embrace modern science and follow the example of other European countries.

The Scottish National Party’s conference has recently voiced its opinion on medical marijuana, calling for it to be decriminalised within the United Kingdom, with delegates at the conference calling upon the UK government to allow the Scottish government the ability to classify the drug appropriately. Cannabis is currently scheduled as a class B substance within the United Kingdom under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, among the ranks of amphetamines, barbiturates and codeine. This classification means that those in possession of certain amounts of the plant can be imprisoned for up to five years, whereas those dealing it can face a colossal 14 years behind bars.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer Laura Brennan-Whitefield was present at the conference, where she expressed her opinions on the medical potential of cannabis and how it has a place in the treatment and management of pain.

According to The Guardian, Brennan-Whitefield stated: “I have been living with multiple sclerosis for nine years and the fact that i’m standing here giving this speech means I am one of the lucky ones.

“It has become very clear to me over these last nine years, that many people living with MS have been using cannabis to help with the symptoms of that condition. In fact, it’s one of the worst kept secrets at the hospital.”

Brennan-Whitefield added, “I don’t think someone who is in pain should be criminalised for trying to ease that pain.” She urged the political party to display “compassion and common sense” when it came to the issue of medical marijuana.

Cannabis use in the realm of pain management was also discussed as effective for those suffering from cancer, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and epilepsy, as well as having a role in palliative care.

Medical Cannabis


Although cannabis decriminalisation, and even medical use, remains somewhat of a taboo subject among more conservative circles within the United Kingdom, cannabis decriminalisation and legalisation for both recreational and medical use is beginning to sweep across the European continent. So far Spain has legalised recreational and medical marijuana, Germany has recently legalised medical marijuana and several other countries in the EU have elected forms of legalisation and decriminalisation. Adding to this, half of the United states have now approved legal medical marijuana, with other states opting for decriminalisation.

The Scottish National Party’s call for for medical marijuana decriminalisation is a logical one, based on scientific grounds. Author of the book Marijuana As Medicine?: The Science Beyond the Controversy, the author states: “Cannabinoids have shown significant promise in basic experiments on pain. Peripheral nerves, that detect pain sensations contain abundant receptors for cannabinoids, and cannabinoids appear to block peripheral nerve pain in laboratory animals. Even more encouraging, basic studies suggest, that opiates and cannabinoids suppress pain through different mechanisms. If that is the case, marijuana-based medicines could perhaps be combined with opiates to boost their pain-relieving power while limiting their side effects”.

Additionally, an article published in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management titled Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain concludes, “Cannabinoid analgesics have generally been well tolerated in clinical trials with acceptable adverse event profiles. Their adjunctive addition to the pharmacological armamentarium for treatment of pain shows great promise”.

Regardless of an increasing abundance of scientific literature stating that cannabis has a place in pain management as a medicine, and the many nations now accepting and applying these facts, the government of the United Kingdom has chosen to maintain an archaic stance on the matter. The reason why is hard to identify, yet perhaps one of the strongest arguments for the use of marijuana as a legal medicine is its incredible safety profile. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports in january 2015 documents, that it was found out, that cannabis is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. This phenomenal fact not only demonstrates the comparative safety of this herbal medicine, it also highlights the incredible hypocrisy of a government, that currently refuses patients medical cannabis for pain over safety concerns, but allows its population to legally purchase alcohol.

Opioids are one of the turn to chemicals in the domain of pharmaceutical pain management in the Western World. However, there are also huge safety concerns here, as they have been shown to be highly addictive and potentially life-threatening. According the the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 165,000 people died in the country from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2014. However, there are literally zero recorded deaths derived from marijuana use worldwide.

However, there is hope on the horizon for pain patients in the United Kingdom who desire to use the safe and effective medicine that is cannabis. As well as the Scottish National Party embracing modern science and common sense, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has said he would make steps towards this becoming a reality, stating, “I would decriminalise medicinal uses of cannabis”, adding, “there has to be an intelligent approach to this”.


  Luke Sumpter  

Written by: Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter is a journalist based in the United Kingdom, specialising in health, alternative medicine, herbs and psychedelic healing. He has written for outlets such as, Medical Daily and The Mind Unleashed, covering these and other areas.

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