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Government to review medicinal use of cannabis

A two-part review will consider the therapeutic evidence for cannabis-based medicines and whether medicinal cannabis should be rescheduled.

Charlotte Caldwell, mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell

Source: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / PA Images

Charlotte Caldwell, mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, whose case sparked the government review of medicinal cannabis

The government will consider whether medicinal cannabis should be rescheduled, Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, has announced.

In a speech to the House of Commons on on 19 June 2018, Javid said that a two-part review will first consider the therapeutic evidence for cannabis-based medicines, and then assess, based on “the balance of harms and public health needs”, whether medicinal cannabis should be rescheduled.

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, will lead the first part of the review and the latter part will be led by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

“If the review identified that there are significant medical benefits then we do intend to reschedule”, Javid told the House.

Cannabis is currently listed under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, meaning that it is considered to have no known medicinal value and cannot, legally, be prescribed or otherwise procured for personal, including medicinal, use.

Rescheduling cannabis — that is, placing it under Schedule 2 instead of Schedule 1 — would allow for cannabis to be prescribed and legally supplied by pharmacists.

Javid’s statement comes the day after an announcement made by Home Office minister Nick Hurd that an expert panel of clinicians, also led by Davies, would be set up to advise the government on individual applications for cannabis prescriptions.

The moves follow the case of Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old boy with severe epilepsy, who was granted an exceptional licence by the Home Office to be treated with medicinal cannabis oil bought by his mother in Canada. The oil, which contains a substance illegal in the UK, called tetrahydrocannabinol, had previously been confiscated.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205023

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  • Charlotte Caldwell, mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell

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