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Medical cannabis will be available on NHS prescription within weeks after huge government U-turn

Medical cannabis products will be available on NHS prescription within weeks, the UK government revealed today.

In a huge victory for campaigners, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said “cannabis-derived medicinal products” will be available “by the autumn”.

He confirmed the drug is being rescheduled in a sweeping U-turn following anger at the treatment of epileptic 12-year-old Billy Caldwell.

Billy suffered seizures and came close to death earlier this year after his medical cannabis was seized by the Home Office. The department then issued a special temporary licence allowing Billy to use the drug after a public outcry.

Mr Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.

It comes after a huge government U-turn following outcry at the treatment of epileptic boy Billy Caldwell – pictured with his mum

“Following advice from two sets of independent advisors, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.

“This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need.”

Previously cannabis was a Schedule 1 drug – meaning it had ‘no therapeutic value’ in the eyes of the law.

But after a rapid review lasting just weeks, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said it had medical benefits “in certain circumstances”.

Smoking cannabis for recreational use will still remain illegal

The drug now looks set to change to Schedule 2 – allowing it to be possessed and prescribed legally by pharmacists and doctors.

It will still be illegal to possess the Class B drug without a prescription.

That class is not set to change – meaning possession for recreational use will still carry an unlimited fine and up to five years’ jail, rising to 14 years for dealers.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the shake-up “is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use”

Despite calls to go further, Mr Javid said the shake-up “is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.”

The Department of Health will now work with regulators to establish exactly what products can be prescribed – and all others will still be banned.

In the meantime, fees for individual patients who apply for a licence to use cannabis will be waived, Mr Javid said.

Organisations including the MS Society had long been pushing for reform.

Tory former Home Office minister Sir Mike Penning, who leads the parliamentary group on medical cannabis, warned the drug must not be snarled up in lengthy medical trials and bureaucracy.

Tory ex-Home Office minister Mike Penning warned drugs must not be snarled up

Sir Mike said: “I pay testament to the families and campaigners that have fought so hard to achieve this dramatic change in policy.

“This announcement brings hope to many thousands of people.

“However, there is still a very important body of work to define exactly which products will be allowed and how they will be regulated.

“There are a whole range of medical cannabis products currently available in other countries that are manufactured to a consistent high standard and have a proven track record of effectiveness and safety.

“These should be made available to UK patients.

“Any move to restrict medical cannabis in the UK to a very narrow range of derived products each requiring full pharmaceutical trials, thereby blocking out the many products available overseas will lead to great disappointment and be a missed opportunity.”

Source

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-medical-cannabis-available-prescription-12984322

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