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Concerns about the 'lack of understanding' of the first medical cannabis lounge in Wales

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Sal Aziz

"I don't live in Wales... but there's nothing like this where I live."

These are the words of a Sal travelling miles from his home in England to a small town in the Cynon Valley so he can use medical cannabis.

Sal Aziz, originally from Devon, lives with anxiety and depression.

But using medical cannabis has helped ease his symptoms "significantly," he said, and he now travels weekly to a medical cannabis lounge in Mountain Ash.

A first-of-its-kind centre in Wales, Sal Aziz is a member of Haze Labs, a lounge that was set up to allow people to use their medical cannabis in a "safe" and "legal place," the owner said.

And the lounge has allowed patients to come together, creating a vital "community", Mr Aziz added when speaking to S4C News.

"I have a lot of benefit with medical cannabis where other treatments have failed," he said.

"I can go out, I'm happy, I can talk to people.''

"Everything is better with medical cannabis."

Jay-Paul Jones

'Stereotypes'

Jay-Paul Jones decided to open Haze Labs in part to address negative stereotypes surrounding the use of medical cannabis, he said.

He said: "Opening Haze Labs has been a personal journey and commitment for individuals who need somewhere safe to go to use medical cannabis.''

"I'm delighted to be the first lounge of its kind in Wales, and we're determined to address any misunderstandings about medical cannabis.," he said.

Sam Ashton

'Evidence of its benefit'

The owners of Cannabis Clinic Cardiff, a clinic that prescribes patients for medical cannabis, have been helpful to Mr Jones as he set up the lounge.

Medical cannabis use became legal in the United Kingdom in 2018.

And according to the Welsh Government, medical cannabis can be given to patients by specialists as a means of treatment – but "only when there is clear evidence of its benefit."

A spokesman for them said: "Specialist doctors can issue prescriptions for medical cannabis products, but only when there is clear evidence of its benefit; where a patient's needs cannot be met through other medicines; and when all other appropriate treatments have failed."

'Need to raise awareness'

Ms Ashton and Dr Dave Howells, owners of Cardiff's Cannabis Clinic, are keen to raise awareness about its legality, and are concerned that some people may be wrongly arrested due to a lack of understanding.

"There is no personal fault with police officers as individuals, but there has been a lack of communication from the Home Office to the Police Commissioners to ensure that the police on our streets have an understanding of the correct and most up-to-date law," Ms Ashton said.

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In response, a UK Government spokesman said: "We sympathise with patients who are struggling to treat their conditions, and we understand the need of some patients to have access to what they deem to be effective treatment."

The spokesman added that it was illegal to import a controlled drug without a licence.

S4C News has contacted South Wales Police for a response.

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