Main Auditorium, Belfast Waterfront, 2 Lanyon Place, Belfast, BT1 3WH
Resolution, submitted by the RCN Suffolk Branch
That this meeting of RCN Congress requests Council to lobby governments across the UK for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.
Over 40 countries, including Italy, Finland, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and half of the United States, have decriminalised cannabis in some form. Tincture of cannabis was medicinally available in the UK until implementation of the Misuse of Drugs Act by UK Government in 1973 (Parliament, 1971).
Attempts have since been made to change existing policy in the UK, including a recent petition presented to the Prime Minister, but none have been successful.
The current position of the UK Government is that as a Class B drug cannabis is subject to strict restrictions, cannot be prescribed, administered or supplied to the public, and can only be used for research under a Home Office licence. The Conservative and Labour Party officially oppose the legalisation of cannabis for any purpose, while the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats support a change in law.
Individual politicians across political parties support the prescription and legal supply of cannabis for medicinal use. In 2017 the MS Society took the position that there is enough evidence to support medicinal use of cannabis to treat pain, when other treatments have not worked. A range of polls demonstrate that there is support for change.
In Wales, Newport MP Paul Flynn proposed a Private Members Bill in October 2017 to allow the production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes, and for connected purposes (Parliament, 2017).
On 18 January 2018, 31 Welsh Assembly Members supported calls for the Welsh Government to lobby their UK counterparts to support the use of cannabis for medical use. 2 voted against and 18 abstained (BBC News, 2018).
In Scotland, in February 2018 Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for a UK-wide review of the use of medicinal cannabis (Freeman, 2018). Apart from the Scottish Greens and Scottish Liberal Democrats, who support the decriminalisation of cannabis, the main parties in Scotland have yet to commit to a policy on medicinal cannabis.
In September 2017 the Medicinal Cannabis Reform Scotland (MCRS) group met with cross-party representatives and stakeholders to discuss access to medicinal cannabis in Scotland. There was an agreement by those present that Alex Cole-Hamilton (Scottish Lib Dems), in collaboration with MCRS, will start the process of setting up a Scottish All Party Parliamentary Group, or something similar, on medicinal cannabis in Scotland (Scottish Drugs Policy Conversation, 2017).
The RCN must join these voices and support the complete decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.