A “SIGNIFICANT” step forward has been made by campaigners calling for the medicinal use of cannabis to be allowed in Scotland.
A summit in Edinburgh has agreed to start the process of setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group to work with drug experts with a view to making medicinal cannabis legal.
The aim is to introduce a pilot scheme in Scotland.
Campaigner Bernadette McCreadie, 40, who uses cannabis to ease the pain of her fibromyalgia condition, said she had been inundated by pleas from “desperate” people “begging” for help.
“We are now desperately trying to come up with plan to help all these people,” she said.
“Those of us who use cannabis for medicinal purposes are breaking the law. We are running the risk of being arrested and we should not have this hanging over us for the human right of simply staying alive.
“I have tried everything the NHS gave me but it all just made me sicker. This is the only thing that works for me.”
McCreadie, from Glasgow, said those who were opposed to allowing cannabis for medicinal purposes had “no clue” what life was like for people like her.
“They don’t know what we are suffering, and what it is like to wake up to this on a daily basis,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but if they were able to swap with us for just one day they would realise what we go through.”
This week’s summit was hosted by Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton. Guest speakers included Steven Rolles of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Ron Hogg, Durham Police Crime and Victim’s Commissioner.
“Cannabis has shown to have medicinal and therapeutic benefits and therefore should be accessible as a fundamental right under UN and Human Rights law,” Rolles told the summit.
There were also representatives from the Scottish Conservatives, the SNP, the Scottish Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Drug Policy Conversations, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the Scottish Industry Cannabis Association.
Delegates at the SNP’s autumn conference last year backed the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use and called on the UK Government to devolve the power to regulate the drug to the Scottish Government.
Cannabis is currently a Class B drug and people in possession of it can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Dealers can face up to 14 years.
McCreadie said that using cannabis oil as a salve or tincture helped make her condition more bearable.
However, she told The National that she is angered that the ban means she is forced to buy the substance illegally — a situation which benefits criminals and in which patients can be exploited.
“By buying it off the street you are putting money into the hands of criminals,” she said.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While the treatment and prevention of drug problems is devolved to the Scottish Government, the classification of cannabis for medicinal use would be a matter that is still reserved to the UK Government. We believe power in this area should be transferred so that in future the policy in this area would be for the Scottish Parliament to decide upon.”