This is a long overdue and historical day for medical cannabis in the UK. Many years of tireless campaigning for legal access to cannabis therapeutics has finally had an impact. On behalf of all patients we would like to thank the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, for opening the door to cannabis medicine so quickly.
That said, the interim prescribing guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians and British Paediatric Neurology Association released yesterday by the NHS are a very disappointing start. Whilst we appreciate that the RCP and BPNA had to create them in only 3 months and have been understandably cautious about the introduction of a brand new classification of medicines after having received no formal education on cannabis to date, the unnecessarily restrictive recommendations will leave thousands, possibly millions of patients in the UK no choice but to continue to source their effective cannabis medicine from the black market which cannot possibly be as good or as safe as being able to access a standardised, quality controlled legal and effective medicine under the supervision of medical professionals.
Clearly, there is an urgent need to teach the medical profession about cannabis and the wealth of research from around the world and they need to engage with and be prepared to listen to and learn from the experience and expertise of patients who have been self-medicating in silence for many years.
This is exactly why we registered as a stakeholder with NICE so that we can ensure policy makers deliver on the politicians promise by bringing the patient voice to bear as we move forwards. Our first meeting is next week and you can be sure that we will be raising these issues.
We have the opportunity, here in the UK, to create the most accessible medical cannabis policy in Europe and set the bar with a world leading solution. The Home Office have done their bit, now it is time for the medical profession to do theirs and make sure that the policy delivers on the Home Office’s promises and addresses the needs of all patients. #nopatientleftbehind
Jon Liebling - Political Director - United Patients Alliance