The Isle of Man could exploit its independence to become a research centre looking into the medical benefits of drugs like cannabis.
That is the belief of former UK government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, who was speaking after a presentation given in the Manx Museum in Douglas earlier this week.
Professor Nutt said restrictive cannabis laws in the UK stifle research into developing medicines from the drug which could benefit a whole range of ailments, including chronic pain.
As a separate jurisdiction, the Isle of Man could take a different stance from the UK and relax its restrictions.
‘I am hoping to speak to the Isle of Man government about this being a rational place to do research and I hope to come back to the island regularly and see research blossom. This is a phenomenal opportunity for the island. A more relaxed approach could facilitate medical tourism for people with a variety of ailments.
‘Who knows perhaps the Isle of Man could even be the location of the first cannabis cafe in the British Isles.
‘On a more serious note, something which I will suggest to Ministers in the Isle of Man is that medicinal cannabis should be available. That would be an enormously humane gesture. Then when the world does not end, they can decide what to do next. The Dutch experience shows cafes can be operated safely.’
Professor Nutt said he had been approached after the talk by people who did use cannabis to alleviate medical conditions but were uncomfortable that it was breaking the law.
‘It has been available for centuries so what purpose does banning it achieve? In 2000 the House of Lords said it should be available in Britain but the Labour party thought it would not win votes. It’s the politicians who don’t want it, not the doctors,’ he said.
Roger Tomlinson of the Positive Action Group which. along with the Isle of Man Freethinkers had organised the talk, said the lecture theatre was packed with around 200 people for the talk which highlighted anomalies in drugs policy with alcohol, caffeine and nicotine all legal but cannabis banned.