SCOTTISH ministers have failed to ask Westminster to devolve powers to Holyrood to decriminalise cannabis for medical use, despite the SNP conference overwhelmingly backing a change in the law.

Delegates at the party's national conference in Glasgow last October urged the UK Government to transfer the powers to the Scottish Parliament to allow it to pass such legislation.

However, public health minister Aileen Campbell said in a written answer to a question from Labour MSP Pauline McNeill that “to date there have been no discussions with the UK Government regarding devolving the power to re-classify cannabis."

McNeill, whose late father John suffered from crippling and agonising arthritis in his dying days, has backed the medical use of cannabis to alleviate the suffering of those with chronic conditions

However, the Glasgow MSP said she was disappointed ministers had not acted on a decision taken at their own party conference to pursue the devolution of powers over cannabis to change the law.

McNeill said: "I fully supported the SNP conference decision and I was pleased to see it, but I'm very surprised to get an answer from the minister that the Scottish Government has not approached the UK Government about the issue.

"I was presuming that they would have had to do it after the SNP conference voted for it. The decisive vote in favour of reform was a good thing as it brought that issue into the public domain. But I'd be pretty annoyed if there was no good reason for not following up on the conference decision."

McNeill added: "Unless there's another way to move it forward, I'd at least have expected Scottish ministers to have had some discussion with the UK Government about decriminalising cannabis for medical use. I'm very disappointed that a few months on, no steps have been taken on this."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said ministers favoured the devolution of power over drug abuse, but failed to state whether they would use it to decriminalise cannabis for medical purposes. The spokesperson said: “Under existing arrangements, the treatment and prevention of problem drug use is devolved to the Scottish Government. However, the control of drugs, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, is reserved to the UK Government.

"Cannabis is included under this Act, currently as a Class B substance, and any decision about changing this legislation would sit with the UK Government. We would like to see this area of policy devolved to allow the Scottish Parliament to consider it in future should it chose to do so.”