A Senedd vote in favour of making cannabis available on prescription to ease pain has been hailed as “victory for common sense and compassion” by a police boss.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones spoke out after a majority of Assembly Members backed calls for cannabis for medicinal uses to be legalised.
Mr Jones is a long-standing supporter of the idea and he believes public opinion has now swung in favour of legalisation.
He believes it is unfair and cruel that people living with conditions like multiple sclerosis who use cannabis are putting themselves at risk of being prosecuted.
As things stand, the UK Government has no plans to change the law and legalise the Class B drug.
The debate in the Senedd was triggered by Welsh Conservative AM Mark Isherwood, Labour AM Mike Hedges, and Plaid AMs Ms Wood and Rhun ap Iorwerth.
They argued there was “clinical evidence of the effectiveness of cannabis for medicinal purposes”.
In the vote, 31 AMs backed calls for the Welsh Government to lobby their UK counterparts to reschedule the drug for medical use. Two voted against and 18 abstained, including the Welsh Government.
Even though the vote has no standing in law Mr Jones believes it is a step in the right direction.
He said: “This vote is a step in the right direction and a victory for common sense and compassion.
“I have a real sense the tide of public opinion has turned on this issue and now there is increasing pressure on the UK Government to take action.
“The debate around drug policy has moved on considerably in recent years and the view that cannabis for medicinal purposes should be legalised is not only held by me but is shared by many Police and Crime Commissioners of all political hues.
“My stance on drugs is a matter of record and was a part of my manifesto when I was seeking election as Commissioner, an election that I won with a significant majority.
“An All Party Parliamentary group has called for the drug’s legalisation for medicinal use and there is significant research that signposts that its use is of considerable benefit to sufferers from MS and other forms of illness and that at least 30,000 people use it daily in the UK.
“I fully support Paul Flynn’s 10 minute rule bill to legalise medicinal cannabis which is due to have its Second Reading on February 23.
“Illness can be an isolating experience, especially if your medicine is illegal, and it is surely wrong that people seeking relief from suffering should be criminalised.”