Leanne Wood has called for Wales to take a progressive approach to the prescription of medicinal cannabis.
The Assembly Member called upon the Welsh Government to review and relax the interim guidance on the prescription of cannabis that is preventing many doctors from making the drug available despite changes to the law.
Earlier this year misuse of drugs legislation was amended so that medicinal cannabis could be prescribed but it has made little difference to the lives of people like 16-year-old Bailey Williams from Cardiff who suffers with severe epilepsy, causing him to have hundreds of seizures in quick succession.
Leanne used Bailey’s example during business questions in the Senedd. The question follows on from a letter to the new Labour Leader in Wales, calling on him to work with health professionals to ensure that medicinal cannabis is more freely available to those who need it.
During Tuesday’s session in the Siambr, Leanne said:
“The relaxation of the laws regarding the prescription of medicinal cannabis as a result of the changes to the misuse of drugs legislation this year has brought about little change.
“This is more than likely due to the restrictive interim guidance that has been published as a result of this legislation change. The Multiple Sclerosis Society say that nothing will change in the short term for the 10,000 people in the UK living with MS who could get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medicinal cannabis.
“This was brought into sharp relief during the last week, with the case of 16-year-old Bailey Williams, who has severe epilepsy, which can cause him to suffer hundreds of seizures in quick succession. His family say that the condition is deteriorating rapidly. They say that medicinal cannabis would greatly improve his symptoms.
“Now, Sativex may be available on the NHS in Wales, but this is only licensed for the treatment of spasticity, and then only available to a small group of people living with MS who meet the criteria.
“This is of no use for people like Bailey with severe epilepsy, or any other condition that might fall outside that narrow scope. I'd like to see this Government work towards ensuring that interim guidance on prescribing medicinal cannabis is reviewed and then relaxed, so that access to treatment is not so heavily restricted.”
She added: “We have an opportunity in Wales to take a progressive approach to the prescription of medicinal cannabis, and we should not let that opportunity fall.
“I've already written to the new leader of Labour, so will you ensure as a matter of urgency that the new First Minister takes action on this without delay, as the family cannot wait until Christmas?”