Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, Minister for Crime Prevention, wants the Department of Health to consider broadening the range of medical conditions for which cannabis can be used.
In the UK, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 enables the availability of controlled drugs for medicinal purposes through licensing under schedules 2-4 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Cannabis is listed in schedule 1 to the Regulations. This means that it has no recognised medicinal use and subject to the strictest control restrictions.
Norman says: “I think it is time to reconsider medicinal properties of cannabis, given what I have learnt in my role as a Minister. I have seen more and more evidence that cannabis can provide genuine medical benefits to treat a number of conditions. There is a growing body of research that shows the medical properties of chemical components of cannabis. We should seriously consider whether it is valuable to treat conditions such as MS, glaucoma, chronic and neurogenic pain and the side effects from chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS treatments.
“I am uncomfortable that there are credible people I have met who tell me that cannabis is the only substance that helps relieve their condition but not only are they stopped from accessing it officially but have to break the law to help their health.
“Other countries recognise that cannabis does have medicinal benefit and we need to look again at this to help people who are ill. This is a quite separate matter from the recreational use of cannabis which is not at issue here.
“We already prescribe cannabinoid treatments for some of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. I have today written to Jeremy Hunt asking him to review the benefits of cannabis, so that we can lower the restrictions on the development of cannabis-based medicines. This could help many people suffering from a range of conditions.
“Obviously we have to do this right, we need to ensure that the proper medical processes are applied. But I have always said that we should follow the evidence, even if that takes us to uncomfortable areas of policy-making.”
I am seriously concerned at the recent tragic escalation of violence in the Gaza region, and I believe that an immediate ceasefire agreed by both sides is crucial. It is deeply disturbing that so many Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in this latest violence, the majority of whom are civilians and many of whom are children. The attacks on UN premises are completely unacceptable.
There can be no justification either for the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza against Israeli civilians or for the ruthless Israeli attackson the Palestinian population in Gaza. This is causing a dangerous security situation which cannot continue, and I condemn all atrocities or human rights abuses carried out by either side in this conflict.
I recognise that the people of Israel have the absolute right to live without constant fear for their security. However, the people of Gaza have the fundamental right to live in peace and security too, and the Palestinian civilian population cannot be held responsible for the actions of Hamas. Around 400,000 people in Gaza currently live without access to electricity, and stocks of fuel and medical supplies are running dangerously low. International humanitarian law must be upheld and Israel should lift its blockade of Gaza to ease this human suffering.
The only hope of breaking this cycle of violence is a return to peace negotiations. My Lib Dem colleagues and I are committed to a negotiated peace settlement, which includes a genuine two-state solution, with Israel returned to its pre-1967 borders, save for mutually agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both states, and a just settlement for refugees. I fear the recent violence can only set back the time when a lasting peace solution can be enacted.
I have contacted the Department for International Development with my concerns, and that of many of my constituents, and have informed me they will be making available emergency support including health care, clean water, blankets and cooking equipment. The support builds on existing crucial programmes at this time of crisis including essential services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East and support for UN Relief and Works Agency to help provide health services to the 70% of the Gazan population who are Palestinian refugees and to shelter those fleeing the fighting.
Work is happening with the UN Access Coordination Unit to support liaising with authorities on all sides to get medical and emergency cases out of Gaza and help to get essential supplies in.
I have recently been contacted by a number of concerned constituents, regarding the sale of the St Anne’s site in Lewes.
I have contacted ESCC to express my concerns at the perceived lack of transparency in the process of sale and have requested that assurance is provided that the sale of the site will not proceed until the community has received clarification and transparency of the process that the bid has gone through
Newhaven MP Norman Baker is seeking that HSBC revisit their decision to close the last bank in Newhaven, following recent announcements of investment into the town and continues to encourage the banking firm to consider leaving a cashpoint in place in the town.
Significant investments into the local economy have been announced throughout July to include planning permission for Newhaven University Technical College providing educational opportunities for 600 students, approval for Rampion Offshore Windfarm positioning Newhaven as the South East Centre of offshore renewable technology and £19 million investment into regeneration for the town to include new port road access.
Norman says “HSBC cannot ignore the substantial investment that is being made into Newhaven, bringing local jobs, development and boosting the local economy. This is a real regeneration boost for the town.
“This is not the right time to be considering closing the Newhaven branch of HSBC, just as the town is getting a boost of funding and will see more people coming into the town. People will want to access banking services locally and not be travelling between towns to get a counter service.”