An Edinburgh MSP has admitted to using cannabis in his university days as he offered his backing a campaign to offer the drug medically to a young boy with epilepsy.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP confessed the class B drug made him “sleepy and a bit queasy”.
The revelation comes as Mr Cole-Hamilton pledged his support to mum-of-three Karen Gray, 43, from East Craigs, who has launched a petition for Cannabidiol (CBD) oil to be prescribed to her son Murray in the hope it will help reduce the “nightmare” seizures the youngster endures.
The MSP said: “Full disclosure, I used it in my student days, but cannabis only ever made me sleepy and a bit queasy so it’s not my cup of tea.
“Access to these treatments would make a huge difference to the quality of life of kids like Murray.
“Any parent would want to make sure their child’s life is as pain-free as possible and it’s heartbreaking that under the laws currently in place, the NHS is not able to support patients who would benefit from the use of CBD oil.
“Many patients could benefit from such treatments if they had access to support from medical professionals in doing so.”
Murray was diagnosed with Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy (MAE) at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in December after suffering 12 seizures in one month. The five-year-old is currently in hospital where he is taking a range of medicines which doctors believe may control his spasms.
The case is similar to that of Alfie Dingley, six, from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, who has 20 to 30 seizures a day.
His family are campaigning to have cannabis oil made available for medical purposes and Home Office ministers are looking at the possibility of a drug trial to help him.
Cannabis oil is readily available and legal to buy, but having spoken with her doctor, Karen realised she would need a medical professional to help with things like dosage.
An online petition has almost 1,000 signatures in only a few days and the mum of the P1 Clermiston Primary School pupil is grateful for the support shown so far.
She said: “We’re grateful to Alex and to everyone else for their support. It’s a nightmare just watching him, you can’t do anything and you feel totally helpless. It is ridiculous the CBD oil is not available on the NHS. We have tried other methods that haven’t worked on Murray. We know that this definitely helps him so we should be able to use it. That is the most frustrating part.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “What’s ludicrous about this is that the purchase and use of CBD is legal. I’ve co-signed a cross-party letter calling for a new, national conversation on controlled substances and the national policy landscape around them. For me that starts with the humane and scientifically supported decision to license cannabinoid therapies like CBD for use through the National Health Service.”
To sign Karen’s petition go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/nhs-medical-cannabis