A BILL calling for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use championed by a Newport MP will be debated in Parliament this week.

Newport West's Paul Flynn has long backed the use of the drug for medical purposes, and last year presented a Private Member's Bill calling for the law to be changed to make its use legal to treat conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. MPs will debate the bill on Friday.

Cannabis is currently a Class B drug, meaning anyone found in possession of it can face up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine. But research has shown it can relieve pain and other symptoms of conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

But earlier this week MPs blocked a call to allow six-year-old Alfie Dingley, of Warwickshire, access to medicinal cannabis to treat his epilepsy.

And, speaking in Parliament, Labour MP Mr Flynn urged people using the drug for medical reasons to break the law, saying current legislation "is cruel and lacks compassion".

"We would have to have a heart of stone if any of our children or grandchildren were in this position and we were told by a stubborn bureaucracy that they had to turn blue up to 30 times a day and have seizures because our law says that that is the situation," he said.

"Twenty-nine American states have legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes, and in every one of them, the use of deadly, dangerous opioids has gone down.

"Every alternative to natural cannabis is worse.

"It is not just one case. Thousands of people have the choice of suffering terrible pain and seizures every day or criminalising themselves by breaking the law.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Flynn said the Home Office had acted "inhumanely and cruelly" by refusing to allow Alfie access to the drug and said the UK was in a "barbaric position".

"Thousands of people are being denied a medicine that’s been trialled in every continent on the planet for 5,000 years because of the blind stupidity of the government," he said.

He added: "It’s outrageous that the government is fighting against public opinion here and I believe, if they deny the chance of this bill getting through on Friday, the public have the right to say the law is an ass, the law is cruel, the law doesn’t allow for compassion and that we join the rest of the civilised world in saying cannabis is a proven useful medicine and there is no case for denying its use."

Home Office minister Nick Hurd has said he "sympathised deeply" with the position faced by Alfie, who was taken to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication in September, which his family said reduced the number of seizures he had, and vowed to "try and help find a solution".

But he also said the government's position is that the drugs does not have "any medicinal benefits".

In 2014 Wales became the first country in the UK to approve the use of cannabis-based medication Sativex to treat people with multiple sclerosis.