The British Medical Association's (BMA) Junior Members Forum voted Sunday in favor of marijuana-based medicines being prescribed by the National Health Service (NHS) to ease the suffering of patients. The group called on the BMA to lobby the British government to change the laws to allow research to develop treatments with cannabinoids, the active ingredients in the plant.
In the British medical system, junior doctors are those who have received a medical degree and are in postgraduate training. While the term seems to imply callow youth, junior doctors in Britain may in fact have logged years treating patients at the NHS.
The vote in Dundee, Scotland, came after the forum heard from Dr. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish General Practitioner and prominent member of the BMA, who told of a patient of his suffering terrible pain who he was unable to help with cannabis because of the state of the law. "A lot of our patients turn to using cannabis to try to relieve their pain -- let's not make them criminals," he said. "Let's not turn pain into punishment."
His patient, a professional woman who suffered from multiple sclerosis, knew of the evidence about cannabis relieving pain, but could not commit a criminal act, Thomson told the forum. "It was frustrating to see it but I could not encourage her to use it," he said. "I know what is best for my patient potentially but I am not allowed by the system to use what would relieve the suffering."