Tele column – 22nd June 2018

The U.K. Government announced this week that it will consider allowing prescriptions for medical cannabis on a one by one basis Assessing cases one by one is slow, cumbersome and therefore cruel. Tens of thousands of people could benefit now. Making them wait while other people with the same condition are provided with medicine is not a solution. Billy Caldwell’s family had to break the law, by bringing medical cannabis into the U.K. from Canada, before the Home Office caved in and allowed him access to his own drugs. MPs had to threaten to travel abroad to get the medicine Alfie Dingley requires before he was offered his by the Home Office. Other less high profile individuals are satisfying their medical needs by making their own provisions because they can’t access legal medical cannabis in the UK. Medical cannabis is available in 30 of the states in the USA and 13 European countries. Somebody living in the Netherlands suffering from epilepsy can bring their medical cannabis into the U.K. and use it to self-medicate. But a resident of the U.K. can’t travel to the Netherlands and bring back the same drugs even if they suffer from exactly the same condition. The Home Secretary announced on Tuesday that the licencing of medicinal cannabis is to be reviewed. Therefore we know that there are moves afoot to address the licensing and prescription of medical cannabis but these advances must be geared towards encompassing medical cannabis into the existing drug portfolio available to general practitioners. The end goal for the Home Office must be to allow the provision of medical cannabis under prescription. And before we can do that we have to address the supply chain for the raw materials and the laboratory facilities to produce the end product. There is a lot of work to do and we need to get started now. The time for grandstanding and prevarication has come and gone.