Friday, July 20, 2018

United Kingdom Drug Policy Committee Calls For Legalization of Medical Cannabis

The U.K. is looking to take steps toward the legalization of medical cannabis. The Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs issued some “short-term advice,” declaring that cannabis has medicinal advantages and that doctors should be able to prescribe it. The committee also went as far to suggest that cannabis should be rescheduled under the misuse of drugs legislation.

Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, the chair of the ACMD stated: “The ACMD advises that clinicians in the U.K. should have the option to prescribe Cannabis-derived medicinal products that meet the requirements for medicinal standards to patients with certain medical conditions.” He added “It is important that clinicians, patients, and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.” The committee chair also said that standards for medical cannabis therapies and protocols for their use should be established, though these would be determined by the Department of Health and Social Care. The advice from the ACMD was the result of the second stage of a review of the medical use of cannabis called for by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The review came after the case of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, a Northern Ireland boy with severe epilepsy, which made international news. The Home Office recently granted Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, boys who have rare forms of epilepsy, a short-term licence to allow them access to cannabis oil, which their parents say helps to control their seizures.

The Council's advice is that only products meeting definitions decided on by the Home Office and the Department of Health will be moved out of schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 into schedule 2, which allows them to be prescribed by clinicians.

Schedule 1 includes drugs not used for medical purposes, such as hallucinogenic drugs, raw opium and cannabis.

The Council said there were still potential risks if cannabis-derived medicinal products were prescribed inappropriately and these needed to be carefully considered to avoid harm to patients.

Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, chair of the ACMD, said: "At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity.

"It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.

"The ACMD recommends that an appropriate definition be agreed by DHSC and MHRA promptly.

"Only products meeting this standard and definition should be given medicinal status."

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