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Controlled drugs

MP criticises government position on medicinal cannabis

Ronnie Cowan, Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde, said in a BBC interview that GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines, after criticising the creation of a new patient review panel.

Cannabis seeds in bottle

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Ronnie Cowan, Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde, has criticised the government for the creation of a new patient review panel, saying that GPs should simply be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicine

The government’s handling of its overhaul of medicinal cannabis has been criticised as “cruel” and “flawed” by an MP who sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for drug policy reform.

Ronnie Cowan, Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde, said in a BBC interview that GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines, after criticising the creation of a new panel that will review individual requests for treatments using these drugs.

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, was commissioned by home secretary Sajid Javid to review whether cannabis-based medicinal products should be moved out of Schedule 1 of the ‘Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001’ and to chair the new panel that will consider individual cases.

But concerns have been expressed that many potential patients would not meet the criteria to be assessed by the panel and Cowan said the only way to solve this problem was for GPs to be allowed to prescribe the drugs.

The MP’s intervention comes as the government announced the second stage of its review of the scheduling of medicinal cannabis on 3 July 2018.

Davies concluded that cannabis-based medicinal products should be moved from Schedule 1 on the basis that there was enough evidence for their therapeutic benefit for certain conditions.

If cannabis was moved to Schedule 2 of the Act, it could be prescribed and legally supplied by pharmacists.

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the RPS welcomed Davies’s position.

Following Davies’s recommendations, Javid announced a further review of the status of medicinal cannabis, which would be carried out by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

He asked it to report within three weeks, and he said he would then “consider the next steps”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205140

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