Cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids are currently classified as Class B controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The Government has confirmed it has no plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use.
However, as many of you will know, following independent advice and pressure from both inside and outside of Parliament, the Home Secretary announced in July 2018 that cannabis-derived medicinal products would be rescheduled. As of 1 November 2018, cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans can be prescribed to individual patients by doctors on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council.
The Government has commissioned the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to produce guidance for clinicians by October 2019. NHS providers will use this guidance to determine whether it will fund the drug routinely for some patients. The Health Secretary has also asked NHS England to initiate a process evaluation to address barriers to clinically appropriate prescribing.
I was relieved to see this long-overdue U-turn regarding medicinal cannabis, which I hope will allow those with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses to get the treatment they need. However, I completely agree with concerns that the arrangements have been too slow and that people’s lives are being damaged in the meantime.
More widely, I would like drugs policy to be reviewed to address all issues of public health. It is important that we base whatever we do on scientific fact and evidence.
Thank you for once again for writing to me. I can assure you that I will continue to bear in the mind the points you raise.