An attempt to effectively legalise the use of cannabis for the relief of chronic pain was rejected by the Court of Appeal today.
Three judges ruled that the Class C drug could not be used out of necessity to alleviate severe pain even if the user was under duress.
The court had been told that cannabis was more effective than conventional forms of pain relief and did not have the potentially serious and life-threatening side-effects of alternative treatments.
Lord Justice Mance, sitting with Mr Justice Newman and Mr Justice Fulford, said the general prohibition on cannabis in the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act showed that any benefits perceived or suggested for individual patients were regarded as outweighed by the disbenefits of allowing its use.
They ruled that the defence of necessity should not have succeeded in the case of Jeffrey Ditchfield, of north Wales, who was acquitted of possessing the drug with intent to supply it to victims of serious and painful medical conditions.
They rejected the appeals of five people who had been found guilty of taking the drug.
All had been given either a fine, community service or suspended jail sentence for possessing or importing the drug.
The five included by Barry Quayle, 38, from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire; Reay Wales, 53, of Ipswich; Graham Kenny, 25, from Shipley, West Yorkshire; and Anthony Taylor, 54, and May Po Lee, 28, both from London.