On 11th June 2018 Charlotte Caldwell arrived at Heathrow. She had her son, Billy’s, life saving cannabis medicine confiscated, then met Minister Nick Hurd at the Home Office!
On the 21st September 2018 the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid and Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock announced that cannabis-based products for medicinal use will be available for specialist doctors to prescribe legally in “Autumn”.
Today, only 4 months after Charlotte and Billy’s story broke - 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
No policy restrictions on product types as long as they are produced for human consumption as a medicine and to GMP manufacturing standards.
No policy restrictions on conditions - Specialists retain authority to prescribe outside of published guidelines if they believe there is a clinical benefit
There is still a long way to go until every patient in the UK gets legal access to their effective cannabis medicine; full 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. The benefits of different product types needs to be understood. The fears and stigma, created by over 40 years of “reefer madness”, need to be countered, however, I have no doubt, now, that we are on the right path and travelling rapidly in the right direction.
Whilst it can never come quickly enough for seriously sick children and their families or for patients with chronic and debilitating conditions, we will get there. 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:
Jon Liebling - Political Director