The UK government has finally approved the use of medical cannabis. By Autumn, it will be legal for doctors to prescribe cannabis treatments for their patients.
The move came after 12 year old Billy Caldwell, a boy with a rare form of epilepsy had been given an emergency licence to receive cannabis treatments.
“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory,” said Home Secretary Sajid Javid. “Following advice from two sets of independent advisors, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription. This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need.”
The Home Office had already given Billy Caldwell a short-term licence for cannabis oil, which helped control his seizures. The emergency licence was then granted by the by the Northern Ireland Department of Health, where he received further treatment. His mother, Charlotte could only thank Sajid Javid for the rapid rescheduling of medical cannabis. “Incredible. For the first time in months I’m almost lost for words, other than ‘thank-you Sajid Javid’. That the Home Secretary has announced that medicinal cannabis can now be prescribed by GPs on Billy’s 13th birthday is amazing. I wonder if he knew? Never has Billy received a better birthday present, and never from somebody so unexpected.”
However Mr Javid went on to say that the government’s approval of medical cannabis products is “in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.” Dealers can still face 14 years in prison while possession can carry with it an unlimited fine and/or five years in jail time.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), suggested that cannabis based medical products should be cited in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. It is currently in Schedule 1, which means that though cannabis can be used to for research purposes, it is considered to have no therapeutic value.
A clear definition of what is to be considered a medicinal cannabis product is now under development by The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).
Once rescheduled, cannabis-derived medicinal products will then be made available for doctors to prescribe.
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