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


                            BREAKING: UK legalizes cannabis for medicinal use in move that splits community

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.

Sajid Javid stressed the access will be strictly medical, and recreational use of marijuana will still be illegal (Getty Images)
Sajid Javid stressed the access will be strictly medical, and recreational use of marijuana will still be illegal (Getty Images)

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.”

 Six-year-old Alfie Dingley poses on Westminster Bridge before meeting with MPs in Parliament on March 20, 2018 in London (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
 Six-year-old Alfie Dingley poses on Westminster Bridge before meeting with MPs in Parliament on March 20, 2018 in London (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

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.

Billy Caldwell looks out of a hotel window on his return to Belfast on July 5, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Getty Images)
Billy Caldwell looks out of a hotel window on his return to Belfast on July 5, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Getty Images)