Sajid Javid confirms medical cannabis to be available on NHS from this autumn

Written by Tom Freeman and Nicholas Mairs on 26 July 2018 in News

Specialist doctors will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products later this year

Sajid Javid - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that medical cannabis will be available on prescription from this autumn.

The Chief Medical Advisor in England, who advises the UK Government, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has concluded that there is evidence that medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits.

The move means specialist clinicians will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products by the autumn for those with “exceptional clinical need”.

Other forms of cannabis will be kept under strict controls.

The change of stance comes after the Home Secretary launched a review in June following high profile cases of children who suffered from severe epilepsy without the product, such as Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose mother had the product confiscated at Heathrow airport after flying from Canada.

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

“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.”

Although health and medicines are devolved to Holyrood, drugs policy remains reserved to Westminster.

SNP MP Ronnie Cowan is the vice-chair of the All-party parliamentary group on medical cannabis under prescription, and has been campaigning on this issue.

“The Home Office have said they will develop additional frameworks and clinical guidelines to ensure that cannabis-derived medicinal products can be prescribed safely to patients,” he said.

“This must happen at pace to ensure those who require medical cannabis can access it in a timely manner.”

The SNP does not have an official policy on cannabis. But at conference last year delegates overwhelmingly backed a motion in favour of decriminalisation of cannabis for medical use.

The Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats support the decriminalisation of cannabis.

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