BROMSGROVE MP and Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday specialist doctors would be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicines to patients with ‘an exceptional clinical need’ by the autumn.
Mr Javid took the decision after advice from experts during the two-part review he commissioned last month following his intervention in the cases of Alfie Dingley and Billey Caldwell.
Alfie’s family had been campaigning for the six-year-old to legally receive cannabis oil to treat his rare form of epilepsy and Mr Javid granted him the first ever permanent medical cannabis licence.
Prior to that 12-year-old Billy was granted a limited licence for a 20-day supply of medical cannabis, also to treat severe epilepsy.
Mr Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.
“That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.
“Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.”
He said it would help patients with an exceptional clinical need but was no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
In the first part of the review the Chief Medical Advisor, Prof Dame Sally Davies, concluded there was evidence medicinal cannabis had therapeutic benefits.
The second part of the review by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) considered the appropriate schedule for cannabis-derived medicinal products, based on the balance of harms and public health requirements.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product so they can be rescheduled and prescribed.
Only products meeting this definition will be rescheduled. Other forms of cannabis will be kept under strict controls and will not be available on prescription.