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Lord Hoyle: My Lords, my noble friend spoke about a Catch-22 situation. He says that the studies would not directly address the therapeutic use. We believe that they could be informative. However, as has been said throughout, we are in favour of more clinical studies taking place. Perhaps I may say to my noble friend that we have to overcome that Catch-22 situation.

The final reports will be submitted to the council in due course, and Dr. Kendall will be expected to publish his findings in the scientific press in the usual manner. In addition, the Medical Research Council is committed to an evaluation of the therapeutic use of cannabis by clinical trial and is working closely with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to enable research in that area to be put on a better scientific footing.

However, the Government are not alone in believing that crude cannabis should not be made available. As has been said this evening, that position is supported by the BMA. In addition, the Royal Society has said that there is not enough evidence to justify either a ban on or the legalisation of cannabis for medical use and that proper clinical trials are necessary before reaching conclusions.

I believe that this debate has been invaluable because not only have we had the benefit of the opinions of all the committee members but it has also provided an opportunity to look at the committee's report. The Government will provide a full reply in due course and we shall also study what has been said during this debate.

In conclusion, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part this evening. In particular, I thank all the committee members and especially the chairman of the committee. It is quite apparent from what I have said that we feel unable to agree with one of the report's central recommendations. However, there is no doubt about the value of the report, which has been acknowledged on all sides of the House. The report will be valuable in the future in relation to the study of cannabis and it will

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help to inform debates which surround the use of cannabis. We are extremely grateful to the committee and this has been a very useful debate indeed.

10.31 p.m.

Lord Perry of Walton: My Lords, I too thank all those who have taken part in the debate this evening. In particular, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Carrick, who made a splendid maiden speech.

I have only three points that I want to make, because it is late. First, as the Minister said, moving cannabis into Schedule 2 would undoubtedly allow doctors to prescribe it for smoking. Indeed, they could prescribe it in any way they liked because moving it to Schedule 2 allows them to do that. As I said in opening the debate, we do not believe that that is quite as bad as it sounds because--and this is my second point--I am quite hopeful that the clinical trials which are about to take place will be successful. I believe that they will be successful both for the cannabinoid that is being used

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and for the crude cannabis that is also being used in a standardised preparation. It will probably be made by cloning the plants so that at least the content will be the same. If it is successful, that will lead to a licensed product which has the approval of the Medicines Control Agency.

My third point relates to what the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, said. If that happens, it will create precisely the same difficulties as those the noble Lord outlined. They will still arise. It is illogical to assume that putting cannabis into Schedule 2 will be more dangerous than licensing the product in terms of spreading the level of abuse of the drug. I do not believe that in either case, there would be that spread of abuse which has been referred to. I believe that most doctors are responsible and the medical professional bodies would take good care of those who transgressed. I commend the Motion to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty six minutes before eleven o'clock.

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