The Isle of Man’s Chief Minister, Allan Bell, says he has been ‘astonished’ by the support he’s received over his stance on decriminalising cannabis.
Mr Bell hit the headlines both here and in the UK when he revealed that he believes consideration should be given to relaxing the law on cannabis, insisting drug use should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal matter.
His comments followed a presentation at the Manx Museum given by former Westminster drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, who argued the island could become a research hub for exploring the medical benefits of drugs.
The Chief Minister said: ‘Any discussion on reviewing drugs policy has traditionally been very problematic and has generally provoked a very strong reaction against any change in law.
‘I have been astonished, following what was really a reflection on comments by Professor Nutt, by the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve had from the public and medical professionals.
‘In particular I’ve had some quite heart rending communications from people who have suffered from very serious illnesses and have been forced into criminality to obtain cannabis simply to achieve pain relief for their condition.’
Mr Bell said he had been contacted by a cancer patient and two multiple sclerosis sufferers, among others.
He said there had to be a balanced approach but it would be ‘irresponsible’ of government to ignore the pleas of such people, knowing there is a remedy such as elements within cannabis that could bring them relief from pain.
Public health chiefs have given their backing to Mr Bell’s stance on decriminalisation - and the topic has stirred up a lot of debate on this website.