BREAKING: UK legalizes cannabis for medicinal use in move that splits community
Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, 6, who have forms of intractable epilepsy, were granted a short-term licence to allow them access to cannabis oil
Doctors in the UK will now be able to prescribe cannabis-derived medicine after the government, on Thursday, announced a relaxation of laws governing access to the substance.
However, it's already been stressed the access will be strictly medical, and recreational use of marijuana will still be illegal. The move comes after the government’s official drug advisers and the chief medical officer of England, Sally Davies, separately concluded there was evidence of therapeutic benefit for some conditions.
The reviews came after a number of high-profile cases involving children being denied access to cannabis oil to control epileptic seizures. The cases included those of Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, six, who have forms of intractable epilepsy, also known as refractory epilepsy, that appear to be eased by the use of cannabis oil, a report in the Guardian said.
Announcing the changes, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who commissioned both reviews, said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory. This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need, but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.”
The Home Office said the Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would now develop a clear definition of what constituted a cannabis-derived medicinal product so they could be rescheduled and prescribed, a BBC report said.
In the meantime, clinicians will still be able to apply to an independent expert panel on behalf of patients wishing to access these products.