Medical cannabis ‘a back-door attempt to alter drug laws’

Activists are using medicine as an excuse to push the social agenda of legalising cannabis, an NHS psychiatrist has said.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Dr Max Pemberton said the current push to legalise medical cannabis is simply a “back-door attempt to make recreational use legal”.

He also said he is suspicious that the resurgence of interest in recreational drugs for mental health conditions is not driven by scientific research.


He said: “As a doctor who has worked in drug addiction, this makes me profoundly uneasy. Time and again I have seen the destruction these drugs can cause.”

While cannabis can have medicinal properties, he explained, typical practice is to identify and isolate the chemical responsible.

It can then be produced “in a tablet, where the dose and purity can be consistent”.


Scientists are currently trying to identify the chemical in cannabis which helps alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy. They hope a medication can be created which can then be prescribed by doctors.

“But rather than identify the components, campaigners insist we should simply legalise cannabis for medicinal use”, Dr Pemberton added.

“Making illegal drugs medically acceptable is the first step in making them socially acceptable.

“If decriminalisation is what you really want, at least be honest about it. Don’t try to use medicine to push a social agenda.”


The psychiatrist’s comments came ahead of a decision by the Royal College of Nursing to lobby the Government to decriminalise cannabis.

The nurses’ vote went beyond calling for the legalisation of cannabis for medical use, going as far as to call for “complete decriminalisation” of the drug in all its forms.

But the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned: “Cannabis carries significant mental health risks for some, including psychosis, depression and anxiety.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said it recognised the suffering of those with chronic pain, but said medicines should be thoroughly tested so that doctors and patients can be assured of their safety.

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