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Sunday, October 26, 1997 Published at 01:09 GMT


Disabled 'use cannabis with doctors' support'

"Cannabis has helped Multiple Sclerosis sufferers"

A quarter of disabled people in Britain say they are taking cannabis with their doctors' approval, a study has revealed.

The survey found 195 of the 200 disabled people asked believed cannabis should be legalised.

Almost 70% said they had taken the drug. Of these, 39% were men and 61% were women.

A quarter said their doctors knew and approved on them using the Class B drug, according to the survey in the journal Disability Now.

The people most likely to use cannabis were those with multiple sclerosis, spinal injuries or diseases.

One respondent said: "It helps take my mind off the pain. I have less spasms in my spine and it helps me breathe easier. It also helps me relax a little."

Another said: "Cannabis is essential when everything else has failed, including physiotherapy, pain relief machines and drugs."

The journal decided to carry out the survey after the issue of using cannabis for medicinal purposes was raised at the British Medical Association annual conference earlier this year.

The journal's editor, Mary Wilkinson, said: "This is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously. Our survey found there are a lot of people who use or have used cannabis."

Earlier this month, the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson revealed he was considering making cannabis available on medical grounds for sufferers of multiple sclerosis.

He said: "I am prepared to look at cannabis for medicinal purposes." However, he emphasised that cannabis should not be legalised because more people would smoke it and their health would suffer.

A recent poll carried asking whether there should be a Royal Commission into the drugs issue revealed the majority of people - 57% - were in favour.

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UK Cannabis Information Site

Multiple Sclerosis Information