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The Government is to consider decriminalising cannabis for medicinal purposes, the Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Eoin Ryan, said yesterday.

After a meeting with his British counterpart, Mo Mowlam, who briefed him on her plans to allow cannabis to be used to relieve pain, Minister Ryan said he would look at the use of the drug as a possible treatment for chronic pain.

"Mo Mowlam was telling me about this development and it is something we will be looking at. People recognise it does relieve pain and nausea.

"We will try and help people who are suffering from diseases which could be relieved through cannabis."

Mo Mowlam said she would like to introduce the medicinal use of cannabis as quickly as possible.

"I can't find any way to do that as quickly as I would like. People with extreme cases of arthritis or multiple sclerosis are in pain now."

She said government researchers in Britain would complete their work by the end of next year, and that she expected to be able to implement her plans by 2002 or 2003.

She said researchers were taking active agents in cannabis and putting them into a medical form, such as an inhaler, which could be then used to relieve pain.

Ms Mowlam spoke to members of the Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, an umbrella group of community, voluntary and trade union groups, and SAOL, a project for recovering female addicts.

Afterwards, she said she was impressed at the level of community activity in Ireland's drugs strategy.

"I'm learning here quite interesting lessons which I will take home. You're a bit better than us at getting community involvement and training the community, which we don't do."

Ms Mowlam said she had developed a good working relationship with her Irish counterpart. "We will continue to exchange ideas. That's the way you deal with a difficult, complex problem."

She also invited Citywide staff to study the implementation on the ground of the UK drugs strategy.

Anna Quigley of Citywide said dialogue with Mo Mowlam was of huge value, and praised her genuine interest and understanding of the drugs issue.

MAP posted-by: Thunder
Newshawk: Martin Cooke
Pubdate: Tue, 14 Nov 2000
Source: Irish Examiner (Ireland)
Copyright: Examiner Publications Ltd, 2000
Contact: exam_letters@examiner.ie
Website: Irish Examiner | Irish Examiner
Author: Cormac O'Keeffe
Bookmark: medicinal cannabis Overload Warning