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Human rights, public health and medicinal cannabis use

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This paper explores the interplay between the human rights and drug control frameworks and critiques case law on medicinal cannabis use to demonstrate that a bona fide human rights perspective allows for a broader conception of ‘health’. This broad conception, encompassing both medicalised and social constructionist definitions, can inform public health policies relating to medicinal cannabis use. The paper also demonstrates how a human rights lens can alleviate a core tension between the State and the individual within the drug policy field. The leading medicinal cannabis case in the UK highlights the judiciary’s failure to engage with an individual’s human right to health as they adopt an arbitrary, externalist view, focussing on the legality of cannabis to the exclusion of other concerns. Drawing on some international comparisons, the paper considers how a human rights perspective can lead to an approach to medicinal cannabis use which facilitates a holistic understanding of public health.
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Keywords: drug policy; human rights; medical cannabis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Law, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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