UK on second review of medical cannabis after top advisor acknowledges benefits

Review of medical cannabis in UK to continue after acknowledging its therapeutic benefits.

Britain’s top medical adviser acknowledged on Tuesday – for the first time – that cannabis can have health benefits. This emboldened UK’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid to further lend his backing to medical cannabis.

Javid is now considering whether medical cannabis could be made easier to prescribe, Downing Street reported after Professor Dame Sally Davies recommended on Tuesday that medicinal cannabis should be moved out of schedule one – a group of drugs considered to have no medical purposes that cannot be legally possessed or prescribed, local media reported.

Davies made her recommendation after Javid ordered a review of medical cannabis last month.

review of medical cannabis in uk
Britain’s top medical adviser Sally Davies/

“There is clear evidence from highly respected and trusted research institutions that some cannabis-based medicinal products have therapeutic benefits for some medical conditions,” Davies said.

“As schedule 1 drugs by definition have little or no therapeutic potential, it is therefore now clear that from a scientific point of view keeping cannabis-based medicinal products in schedule 1 is very difficult to defend.”

Meanwhile, Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that we needed to take a fresh look at the scheduling of cannabis-related medicinal products.”

Review of medical cannabis in UK

Javid now is tasking Davies for a “second stage” review.

“I would like to thank the chief medical adviser for her initial review and have now asked my independent advisory committee to commence the second stage of this process. When I have received its advice I will consider what next steps need to be taken.”

Javid is taking an aggressive stance towards UK’s review of medical marijuana after stories of two epileptic boys made it into national and international headlines.

Both Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, six, were previously denied access to the needed medical cannabis medication to treat their seizures. The two saw a reduction of their seizures when treated abroad, however, their medical issue ensued after returning home.

But after arduous efforts to have the two boys access medical marijuana, Caldwell had the Home Office rubber-stamp a special exemption license for him, making him able to home with the medicinal cannabis he purchased from Canada.

Alfie and Billy are among about 20,000 children who do not respond to the medication prescribed by the NHS, The Guardian reported.

Six-year-old Alfie Dingley, his sister Annie, parents Drew Dingley and Hannah Deacon and actor Sir Patrick Stewart (left) hand in a petition to Number 10 Downing Street asking for Alfie to be given medicinal cannabis to treat his epilepsy. (Image via PA WIRE)

Within next three weeks

The prime minister’s official spokesman said following the first review by Davies that “this has led today to the commissioning of the second part of the review that will be completed by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.”

The spokesman added: “The ACMD will be advising on whether cannabis-related medicinal products should be rescheduled within the next three weeks.”

However, he emphasized that the “recreational use of cannabis will remain illegal.”

“This is looking at how it could be made available as a therapeutic treatment.”