Pubdate: Wed, 04 May 2016
Source: Courier, The (Dundee, UK)
Copyright: DC Thomson & Co Ltd
Author: Kieran Andrews


First Minister Makes Controversial Health Announcement As She 
Confirms Dundee Will Get Its Own Trauma Centre

Nicola Sturgeon would back decriminalising cannabis for medicinal use.

The First Minister said there was a "specific case" for relaxing laws 
to treat people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis but 
reaction to her announcement split the audience of around 150 
activists in Dundee's Queen's Hotel.

A wide range of topics were covered in the hour long question and 
answer session, with the SNP leader committing to building a trauma 
centre in Dundee and said she would "love" to implement Frank's Law 
but stopped short of committing herself to a fairer care system.

On drugs policy, she said: "Cannabis is not a harmless substance. I 
am not in favour of general decriminalisation but I do think there is 
a specific case for medicinal use."

Ms Sturgeon cited Sativex, the first cannabis-based medicine to be 
licensed in the UK which can be prescribed for the treatment for MS, 
in her answer.

Decisions over decriminalising drugs for medicinal purposes are 
currently reserved to Westminster but former justice secretary Kenny 
MacAskill last year suggested that he would be in favour of relaxing 
the laws around possession of specific substances.

The First Minister also dispelled doubts over whether or not a trauma 
centre would be built by the Tay.

She said: "There will be a major trauma centre in Aberdeen and there 
will be one in Dundee as well."

Ms Sturgeon was asked about why people under 65 pay into their 
pension funds but have to pay for personal care when they are 
diagnosed with conditions such as dementia.

Dundee United legend Frank Kopel died in April 2014 having been 
diagnosed with dementia in 2009, when he was aged just 59 with his 
family paying UKP300 a week to have personal care in his Kirriemuir 
home. His wife, Amanda, Mrs Kopel is urging ministers to close the loophole.

Pressed on why little progress has been made, she added: "Funding is 
an issue but it is also about practicalities. If we did it for 
dementia, would there be other conditions which people think it 
should apply to?"
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom