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Medicines regulation and law

Legalise cannabis for medical use, MPs say

An influential committee of MPs has called on the government to make cannabis legal for medical use. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Drug Policy Reform wants the drug reclassified from its Schedule 1 — which puts it in the same class as ecstasy and LSD — to Schedule 4, which means it can be legally used for personal use. Drugs in this category include steroids. 

The call follows the results of the committee’s seven-month inquiry into the medicinal use of cannabis where the MPs took evidence from 623 patients, health professionals and medicine regulator experts. 

The APPG were also influenced by another report, which reviewed the clinical and medical evidence and concluded there is “good” evidence that cannabis in some form can help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, spasticity, anxiety, and nausea and vomiting — particularly in the management of chemotherapy. 

Caroline Lucas, co-chair of the APPG, says thousands of people in the UK risk breaking the law in order to take cannabis for medical reasons, which she says is stressful and unacceptable.

“This a matter of compassion and human rights. The government should have the political courage to view the issue of medical cannabis separately from any wider drugs reform and act urgently.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society says it would only back the use of cannabis as a licensed medicine if it is supported by clinical trial evidence. Its head of corporate communications, Neal Patel, says: “It’s right the potential of these ingredients should be explored through robust, high quality clinical trials to see if they can be developed into new, licensed medicines.

“Unless such trials prove the clinical benefit of cannabinoids, we do not support the medicinal use of cannabis, for example smoking or eating it,” he adds.  

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201710

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