Cannabis-based medicine to be available through the NHS

From 01 November doctors in England, Wales and Scotland will be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicine to patients. 

Earlier today (Thursday) the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed that clinicians would be able to prescribe the drug from next month.

MP for Edinburgh West, Christine Jardine, said: “I think it’s fantastic that it’s going to be available now. It’s a shame it’s taken so long and so many people have had to put up with pain when it wasn’t necessary, children like Murray in my constituency have been affected when a solution was there, something to help was there.

“I understand why people had reservations, but now we can get in and ensure people can have their suffering relieved.”

The new regulations allow cannabis-derived drugs to come under schedule 2 of the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations act. This allows three routes for the order, supply and use of cannabis-derived products by patients.

A medicinal product prescribed by a doctor, an investigational medicinal product without marketing authorisation for use in a clinical trial or a medicinal product with a marketing authorisation.

Cannabis has previously been classed as a class B drug, meaning it was thought to have no therapeutic value and couldn’t be possessed or prescribed lawfully.

The changes come after the families of six-year-old Alfie Dingley, 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, five-year-old Murray Gray, who all have forms of epilepsy, and more campaigned for CBD oil to be available through the NHS.

“Making medicinal cannabis legal has taken a long time, but we have seen in other countries it has been so successful,” says Christine.

CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants which doesn’t contain any synthetic materials, but has been known to reduce seizures.

Northern Irish Billy Caldwell has severe epilepsy, experiencing seizures daily. After taking CBD oil, his seizures reduced from 100 a day and he was seizure free for almost a year.

Billy was the first person to have CBD oil prescribed on the NHS but this was later revoked and is still not approved in Northern Ireland. Discussions are still ongoing to make the same changes in the country.

“I think it’s important not just with this issue but with others like abortion too,” says Christine. “The fact people don’t have the same access throughout the UK its unthinkable, someone would have to suffer pain in one part of UK when a solution could be available in another part, we need to ensure everyone has the same access to solutions.

“We are one country and I think although healthcare is devolved in different nations we do need to ensure you’re not treated differently in one part of the country than another.”

The Home Secretary has stressed that while cannabis-derived drugs will be available through the NHS there is no intention to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.

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