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UK: Doctors allowed to prescribe cannabis-based medicine in UK
Thursday 11 Oct 2018
Doctors in England, Wales and Scotland will be able to prescribe cannabis-derived medicine in less than a month, the home secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid previously announced cannabis-derived medicinal products were to be placed in schedule 2 of the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations, allowing clinicians to prescribe them.
On Thursday, the home secretary confirmed the regulations would come into force on 1 November.
What is cannabis oil and how does it work?
The changes come after a series of high-profile cases involving children being denied access to cannabis oil to control epileptic seizures. The cases include those of Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, six, who have forms of intractable epilepsy, also known as refractory epilepsy, that appear to be eased by the use of cannabis oil.
In a written statement to parliament, Javid said: “I have been clear that my intention was always to ensure that patients have access to the most appropriate course of medical treatment.
“I stressed the importance of acting swiftly to ensure that where medically appropriate, these products could be available to be prescribed to patients.”
He added: “I have been consistently clear that I have no intention of legalising the recreational use of cannabis. To take account of the particular risk of misuse of cannabis by smoking and the operational impacts on enforcement agencies, the 2018 regulations continue to prohibit smoking of cannabis, including of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans.”
The regulations allow three access routes for the order, supply and use of cannabis-derived products by patients – a special medicinal product for use in accordance with a prescription or direction of a doctor, an investigational medicinal product without marketing authorisation for use in a clinical trial or a medicinal product with a marketing authorisation.
Home Office officials are still in discussions with the Department for Health in Northern Ireland over the changes.
Cannabis has been classed as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is thought to have no therapeutic value and cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed. It may be used for the purposes of research, but a Home Office licence is required.
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