The UK’s Plan To Legalise Medical Cannabis;
On 26th July 2018 news broke that the government was approving the use of medical cannabis in the UK when prescribed by a doctor. It was said that this law could come into effect as soon as this autumn.
The announcement made by the Home Office follows a number of high profile cases involving two young and sick boys Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley who were denied access to cannabis oil for their conditions. Both boys have since been granted licenses for their treatments.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, commented on these cases stating, “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medical products was not satisfactory.
“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.”
So What Will Change?
Medical cannabis is currently categorised as Schedule 1 drug, a Schedule 1 drug is thought to have no therapeutic value. Medicinal cannabis products will be placed and categorised in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
Does this mean non-medicinal cannabis will be legal?
No, possession of cannabis is illegal in the UK and can result in unlimited fines, 5 years in prison, and for dealers, 14 years in prison. Marijuana will only be legal for medicinal use. Even though it may go some way to improve the public perception, Sajid Javid clarified that this change in legislation wasn’t a step towards legalising cannabis for recreational use.
How will it work?
The Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicine and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is still in decision about a clear definition of what counts as a cannabis-derived medicinal product. It will likely refer to medicinal cannabis in the form of THC oils – unlike the CBD oils we stock – for extreme cases of sickness.
It’s likely that the products will be very specific, tested and certified with minimum safety standards, which will then issued to licensed doctors to complete appropriate prescriptions for patients of varying ages.
As commented by Sajid Javid, a medicinal cannabis prescription will be eligible to patients with ‘exceptional cases’ of sickness. The young children from recent high profiles cases were suffering from extreme and rare forms of epilepsy, resulting in seizures. A person would need to visit a licensed doctor and be given a prescription based on their individual needs.
What does this mean for the future?
We’re waiting for more information to be released and for the Home Office to detail exactly what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product. As the legislation is likely to be altered this autumn, these products could be available for prescription in 3-4 months time.
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Disclaimer: We cannot claim that cannabis has medicinal effects. References here refer to reports on the legislation change and quotes from those involved or commenting on the news and process.