Cannabis possession should not always be criminalised, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said, but he stopped short of calling for full legalisation.
Currently cannabis is a Class B drug, with many concerned over its links to mental illness.
Mr Corbyn acknowledged that “no drug is without consequences”, but claimed it was not a good idea to charge people for holding small amounts of cannabis.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Corbyn confirmed that he maintained his position since 2000 when he signed a motion backing the decriminalisation of cannabis possession.
However, he declined to go further and support full legalisation.
Instead, he gave strong backing for medical use of the drug, saying cannabis oil should be “made readily available as quickly as possible”.
He continued: “Personally, I don’t take any drugs at all, and I think we should think about it quite carefully.
“But let’s go with what is proposed now, which is the availability of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”
Some cannabis-derived medicine, which is subject to thorough testing and regulation, is already legally available in the UK.
The Government is currently carrying out a review on medical cannabis – but has ruled out changing the law on recreational use.
The Chief Executive of the NHS and a former drug policy adviser to President Obama have spoken out against legalising casual cannabis in recent weeks.
NHS chief Simon Stevens warned that in countries where such a move has taken place, young people often “come to think of smoking marijuana as safe”. “Whereas let’s be clear, actually it isn’t”.
And Dr Kevin Sabet warned that legalising casual cannabis would lead to the “weakest in society” getting hurt.