Medicinal Cannabis: Update

Thank you for contacting me about medicinal cannabis.

In addition to the developments already underway, which I set out again below, I understand that the preparation of National Institute of Health and Care Excellence Guidelines has been expedited and they will be published in Autumn 2019. 

There is strong scientific evidence that cannabis is a drug which can harm people’s mental and physical health, and damage communities. However recent cases have shown that there is a need to look more closely at the use of cannabis-based medicine in the healthcare sector in the UK which is why the Government decided it was appropriate to review the scheduling of cannabis.

The Home Secretary's decision to reschedule these products means that senior clinicians will be able to prescribe the medicines to patients with an exceptional clinical need. Following short term advice issued in September 2018 the ACMD are to review the current rescheduling and its appropriateness by November 2020 and provide further initial advice on synthetic cannabinoids by summer 2020.

It is crucial that this country keeps in step with the latest scientific evidence, so that patients and their families have access to the most appropriate course of medical treatment.

My Ministerial colleagues have also 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 this treatment’s effectiveness.

The decision whether to prescribe 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 for an individual’s particular condition.

I will continue to closely monitor the roll-out of medicinal cannabis. I would very much welcome the opportunity to discuss further with you the issues you raise at one of my 'Meet Your MP' events, details from my office or this website. Alternatively, you can of course send further correspondence to my office.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Craig Whittaker MP

June 2019