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Introduction

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On Thursday 11th October 2018 changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow the prescription of Cannabis-Based Products for Medical Use in Humans have been laid and will become law on 1st November 2018

Details of the changes to be made to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Statutory Instrument (SI))

Last week, United Patients Alliance attended a Home Office Briefing that we hoped would give us more details and give us the opportunity to put some questions to the authorities.

Key Takeaways

No policy restrictions on allowable product types as long as they are produced for human consumption as a medicine and to GMP manufacturing standards.

No policy restrictions on conditions for which cannabis-based products can be prescribed for - Specialists retain authority to prescribe outside of published guidelines if they believe there is a clinical benefit

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We have now received the full Slide Pack from the Briefing and have been asked to cascade the information into the Public Domain. So here it is.

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We were delighted and reassured to find that whilst we may all have different ideas and perspectives, every single person and organisation involved in this briefing genuinely wants to do their very best for patients in the UK and realise the importance of listening to their experiences and drawing from their knowledge
— Jon Liebling - Political Director - United Patients Alliance

This group will reconvene throughout the next 12 months for further discussion and briefings and in addition, United Patients Alliance have been selected to be a stakeholder representing the voice of patients in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) process to publish detailed prescribing guidelines by October 2019 and will be in attendance and providing input at all meetings.

A year ago several hundred patients stood outside Parliament with signs asking to be taken seriously, now as patient advocates; we are being invited to contribute to what will eventually become policy. For those patients who have been campaigning for this since the 1970’s, this is a long awaited win.

The meeting of minds from different organisations has been an incredible thing to behold. The NHS, the MHRA, the Home Office and the ACMD have had to shape, weave, bend and break a usually rigid set of policies in order to make medical cannabis fit. This really was a piece of work.
— Carly Jayne Barton - Deputy Director - United Patients Alliance

There is still a great deal of work to do until every patient in the UK gets legal access to their effective cannabis medicine: Guidelines have to be written, the entire medical profession needs to be engaged and trained to fully understand the endocannabinoid system and the breadth of conditions for which it can be helpful whilst he benefits of different product types needs to be understood. The fears and stigma associated with cannabis needs to be countered, however, I have no doubt, now, that we are on the right path and travelling rapidly in the right direction and with approximately 80000 specialists on the GMC register given prescribing authority on November 1st, this is a great first step.

After so many years of fighting for our right to the medicine that gives us better health and better lives, a little more patience so that we can design and implement a world-class medical cannabis policy which addresses the needs of all patients whilst protecting the vulnerable seems fair at this point.

Due credit must go to a new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who announced his commitment to investigate the use of cannabis as a medicine, reportedly against the wishes of Theresa May, and got to here in 3 months. What next? Here’s what the Department of Health and Social Care thinks:

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Jon Liebling - Political Director