Salford City Council will vote this week on an ‘unprecedented’ motion designed to protect medicinal cannabis patients from discrimination.
The motion, moved by independent councillor, Andrew Walters, puts forward a number of proposals to raise awareness of the legality of medical cannabis and protect those in possession of legal prescriptions.
It is expected to be discussed at the Full Council meeting of Salford City Council on Wednesday 15th November.
If approved, all council premises could be required to have a safe indoor space for patients to consume their medication in order to prevent council employees and visitors from being discriminated against, in accordance with the Equality Act.
The City Mayor will also be urged to ensure that all licensees, Housing Associations and police officers in the city are aware of the legal status of cannabis-based products for medicinal use, to provide training, and to request measures are introduced to avoid potential discrimination.
It is thought to be the first time a local authority has put forward a motion of this kind, which acknowledges the legality of medical cannabis and the issues facing patients in the wider community.
Medical cannabis was legalised in November 2018, but five years on, surveys have shown that around half of the UK population are still unaware that it is available on prescription.
A ‘potentially game-changing’ moment
Coun Walters told Cannabis Health that the motion will ensure patients are treated with ‘dignity’ and no longer feel they have to consume in secret like ‘criminals’.
Since putting forward the motion, he understands that other councils across the UK are considering similar action, adding that it has already ‘succeeded’ in raising awareness regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s vote.
“It is an honour and privilege to move this unprecedented, potentially game-changing motion this week,” he commented.
“The motion is all about awareness; it is not changing any law, or doing anything different. It is not radical, liberal or political. The Equality Act is just as relevant without the motion as it would be if the motion is passed. If a patient walks into the council building today, and needs someone safe and secure to take medicine, the Equality Acts apply. But would a council officer know what to do? What documents to ask for? Unlikely, perhaps, which is putting the council at real risk of anti-disability discrimination. The motion is all about education; so if a patient needs to medicate, officers know what to do, and can treat the patient with dignity.
Attention patients in the greater Manchester/Salford area! Please attend and support cllr Walters with his motion on cannabis based prescription medicine
Directions to attend are here: https://t.co/X8fJJUbbtv
Can’t attend? You can watch live, here: https://t.co/oe9pNNWQND
— 🇬🇧 Medical Cannabis Patients Association (@MCPA_UK) November 13, 2023
“A patient will no longer need to decide between either suffering excruciating pain, having to hide ‘behind the bike shed’ like a criminal, or risk censure for openly consuming. And that is a decision that no-one should have to make. Imagine a diabetic needing to hide to take insulin, or an asthmatic struggling to breathe because of a stigma around an inhaler.”
Coun Walters added: “This motion will not overturn the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. We don’t have that power. It will not change who can prescribe. We don’t have that power either. But we do have the power to restore basic human dignity to disabled, sick and suffering patients.
“If it fails in Salford, it has still succeeded. People are now aware. No more will patients fear arrest for possession or consumption of their legally prescribed medication. In 10 years, we will look back at this week as the day the stigma was finally erased. But will Salford be remembered as the innovator? The brave? The fearless? Or the council who was too scared to support a motion considered ‘radical’? I believe in Salford. I hope Salford Council does too.”
The motion in full
The motion can be seen in full here and is summarised below:
Salford City Council resolves to urge the City Mayor to:
- Ensure all council premises have a safe indoor space for CBPM users in accordance with the Equality Act, and that council employees and visitors are not discriminated against.
- Ensure all Salford licensees are aware of CBPMs and their legal status.
- Provide training to relevant officers on CBPMs, how they differ from black-market cannabis and how to avoid potential discrimination under the Equality Act.
- Ensure that proposed bylaws to reduce smoking and nicotine-vaping near schools and public places are drafted in a way as not to inadvertently include use of CBPMs.
- Ensure that ongoing and future Equality Impact Assessments consider CBPM users.
- Write to the Chief Constable of GMP to enquire as to what information or training is given to police officers to ensure they position, and to publish a copy of the letter and response.
- Write to Salford Housing Associations to confirm that they are aware of the legal position, and to request that measures are put in place to ensure that housing association tenants prescribed CBPMs are not discriminated against, and to publish a copy of the letter and any response(s).
Cannabis Health will have further updates on the outcome of the motion in the coming days.
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