UK doctors given green light to prescribe cannabis

on Jul 27, 2018 • by AFP (Agence France Presse)

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London, July 26, 2018 (AFP) - British doctors will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis, the government announced Thursday following a review -- but insisted it was not a first step towards legalising recreational use.

cannabis
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the interior minister, decided to relax the laws about the circumstances in which specialist clinicians can give medicinal cannabis can be given to patients.

It follows several high-profile cases, including those of young epilepsy sufferers whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

"Making medicinal cannabis available on prescription will benefit the lives of ill patients currently suffering in silence," Javid wrote on Twitter.

"There is nothing harder than seeing your loved ones in pain -- which is why I have taken this decision."

Under the new rules, to be brought in later this year, senior doctors will be able to prescribe the medicines to patients deemed to have an exceptional clinical need.

Rapid review

Javid had commissioned a review on June 19.

An initial review by Sally Davies, the government's chief medical adviser, concluded there was evidence that medicinal cannabis had therapeutic benefits.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which conducted the second part of the review, last week said doctors should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis provided products meet safety standards.

"Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory," Javid said in a statement.

"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.

"This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need, but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use."

The Home Office interior ministry said in a statement that it was not proposing to change wider laws on cannabis.

"The government is clear that today's announcement does not pave the way towards legalising cannabis for recreational use.

The penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged," it said.

'Normal life' for epileptic boy

One of the recent cases in the public eye involved epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell, who turned 13 on Thursday.

His mother Charlotte Caldwell called the dramatic change "amazing".

She said her son could now "live a normal life" due to "the simple ability to now administer a couple of drops a day of a long-maligned but entirely effective natural medication".

Mike Penning, who co-chairs the recently-established cross-party Medical Cannabis Under Prescription parliamentary group, said the announcement brought hope to thousands of people.

He added: "Any move to restrict medical cannabis in the UK to a very narrow range of derived products, each requiring full pharmaceutical trials, thereby blocking out the many products available overseas, will lead to great disappointment and be a missed opportunity."

The Liberal Democrats, the fourth-biggest party in parliament, have long campaigned for liberalising cannabis laws.

"This is a very welcome and long overdue change," said health spokesman Norman Lamb.

"However, it is disappointing that the government has refused to commit to a wider review of the outdated and harmful laws around the recreational use of cannabis as well."

Doctor Tom Freeman, a senior academic fellow at King's College London university, said Javid's decision would have a "substantial impact on research by facilitating the development of safer and more effective medicines".

"Similar reviews are now warranted for other Schedule 1 drugs with potential medical value, such as MDMA and psilocybin," he added.

Comments

on 7/29/18

I am pleased to see this has been authorised to a certain extent. 

Coming from Africa where any form of Cannabis was illegal, and having had epilepsy for 45 years, I am grateful that medication has done me well for my epilepsy over the years, and it still controls my tonic clonic seizures.  Cannabis doesn't work for everyone depending on the type of epilepsy one has and obviously the amount of seizures one experiences.

May it continue to be further investigated and if given, help those that desperately need it.

on 7/30/18

I suffer from chronic pain and fibromyalgia. I’m on high doses of OxyContin and the liquid form plus diazepam and a Celebrex. This doesn’t adequately help and after trying medical cannabis which helped tremendously and I consider safer than opioids I would love to be able to stop taking those chemicals and to be able to go into medicinal cannabis. 

on 7/30/18

Will rheumatoid arthriris patients be aloud to use medical cannabis (cbd) as a replacement for the drugs they give us? I have taken reactions to every drug theve tried me on and now im doing it myself with cbd oil and supplements diet changes ect. Cbd oil is exspensive so would i be aloud it on the nhs.

on 7/30/18

@Pixierose ‍ 

I see that you are on Celebex. How long have you been on it? Are  you aware that this medication causes heart attack? It was in the news a few years ago, and many doctors advised their patients to stop taking them. I am one of them. I was on it for good few years when my GP informed me of the drug being responsible for causing heart attack in many patients. I made a conscientious decision to stop Celebrex and have been treating my Arthritis with Alternative therapies, such as Turmeric, Fish oils Glucosamine sulphate, MSM Rosehip supplements. Please investigate in to this further yourself. No one can tell you not to take Celebrex, only you can decide.

Good luck

nineteen_gale

on 7/31/18

Thankyou nineteen_gale

on 8/3/18

Celebrex is no longer available here in the UK as far as I know.I used to take it,and found it helped though.Will be good if cannabis is available on prescription here.I have had RA for many years.

on 8/3/18

I am hoping that we can get it on  prescription in Uk ,, I suffer with chronic pain due to OA and Fibromyalgia. I an on CBD oil , and find it really helps ... used to take a lot off pain medication,which gave me  colitis ... And the pain killer don,t work after a while , so fingers crossed we can get it here .... 

on 8/4/18

I take Celebrex and I’m in the U.K. I take 200mg in the am and another 200mg in the pm. 

on 8/4/18

Yes. it is still available in UK but the GPs are warning their patients regards the possibilities of Heart attack when taken on long term basis but the choice is left to the patient whether he/she still wants to be on this medication

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