Medicinal cannabis has proven therapeutic benefits and doctors should be able to prescribe it, the Government’s chief medical adviser has said.
Professor Dame Sally Davies recommended medicinal cannabis should be moved out of schedule 1 – a class of drugs considered to have no medical purposes that are prohibited – in part one of an evidence review ordered by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Dame Sally’s comments, published on Tuesday, are the first time the Government has formally acknowledged cannabis can have health benefits.
“There is now … conclusive evidence of the therapeutic benefit of cannabis-based medicinal products for certain medical conditions and reasonable evidence of therapeutic benefit in several other medical conditions,” Dame Sally said.
“I therefore recommend that the whole class of cannabis based medicinal products be moved out of schedule 1.”
The change would allow the drugs to “be prescribed under controlled conditions by registered practitioners for medical benefit”,she continued.
It would also help improve the evidence base for research into the drugs, she said, ”maximising benefits to patients”.
The Home Secretary ordered the review after the issue of medical cannabis was thrust to the forefront by the case of a severely epileptic child Billy Caldwell.
Only cannabis oil gave the 12-year-old relief from frequent seizures he suffered, but his mother had the drug confiscated from her at Heathrow.
Billy was granted a 20-day emergency licence in June that allowed him to possess the drug, but not before he suffered multiple seizures and was admitted to hospital in a critical condition.
Responding to the result of part one of the review on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said the Government would wait for part two to be completed in the next three weeks before considering action.
“Professor Dame Sally Davies examined existing research into therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis-related products,” he said.
“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 ACMD will be advising on whether cannabis-related medicinal products should be re-scheduled within the next three weeks.”