Medicinal Cannabis

I am grateful to everyone who has contacted me about the availability of medicinal cannabis.

As you are aware, recent cases have shown the need to look more closely at the use of cannabis-based medicine in the healthcare sector in the UK, with the Government recently reviewing the scheduling of cannabis.

The review has taken place in two parts. Professor Dame Sally Davies took forward the first part of the review, considering the evidence available for the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based medicines. This informed which cannabis-based medicines should be taken forward to part two of the review.

The second part of the review was led by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) which provided an assessment based on the balance of harms and public health needs, of what, if anything, should be rescheduled.  

The Home Secretary has since agreed to reschedule medicinal cannabis products, enabling senior clinicians to prescribe the medicines to patients with an exceptional clinical need. The ACMD will carry out a longer-term review on rescheduling and will make further recommendations within 12 months.

Ministers have been clear that, given the nature of the medicine, it should only be prescribed by specialist doctors and on a case-by-case basis. I believe these strict controls are necessary to develop clinical expertise and an evidence base for the effectiveness of the treatment.

The decision whether to prescribe an individual with medicinal cannabis is therefore not a political or financial decision, but a decision by a medical expert, who will have considered whether it is the most effective treatment based on an individual's particular condition.

It is crucial that we keep in step with the latest scientific evidence, so that patients and their families have access to the most appropriate course of medical treatment, and I will continue to closely monitor the roll-out of medicinal cannabis.