U.K. committee ask Gov to improve access to medicinal cannabis

Liz Filmer
11 Sep 2023

The U.K.'s Home Affairs Committee has recommended that the government broaden access to unlicensed cannabis-based products for medical use via the NHS before the end of this current Parliament. This gives the government two months to respond to the committee.

Currently, no licensed CBPMs or "cannabis-based products for medical use" are available in the U.K. Epidyolex – the European trade name for Epidiolex – Nabilone and Sativex are deemed licensed cannabis-based medicines but not CBPMs.

"We are concerned that there is currently a lack of access to the NHS for patients with a genuine medical need. Access continues to be a problem".

In 2023, the U.K. revealed that less than five patients received unlicensed cannabis-based medicine from the publicly funded NHS.

In contrast, however, 89,239 unlicensed medical cannabis "items" were prescribed via the private sector between November 2018 and July 2022.

In 2018, the U.K. rescheduled cannabis to Schedule 2. This move allowed expert clinicians to prescribe medical cannabis through the NHS or privately.

In their report, the Home Affairs Committee expressed its support for cannabis-based products for medical use in cases "where there is an evidence base that it can be an effective form of treatment for managing conditions or symptoms."

The committee recognised the existence of evidence proving the likely medicinal value of cannabis in easing chronic pain.

The report advised that "the Government supports researchers to perform randomised control trials into the usefulness of CBPMs to treat chronic pain."

Suppose the evidence base is supportive and the process is deemed cost-effective. In that case, the committee recommends that the government allow CBPMs for this objective and work alongside clinicians to guarantee that it is considered a treatment option in relevant subjects.

Concerns about recreational cannabis were voiced, however, with the committee's report stating that they are troubled by any harms that cannabis for non-medical use may pose, particularly concerning young people. Whilst a push forward for medicinal use, recreational reform is still very much off the table.

"We do not believe that cannabis should be legalised and regulated for non-medical use."

In the same report, the committee was welcoming concerning the U.K. government's pledge to remove unnecessary barriers when researching the potential of psychedelic drugs.

However, the report urged the U.K. government to speedily re-classify psychedelic drugs to Schedule 2 to help stimulate more thorough research on their medicinal or therapeutic value.

More on this topic from soft Secrets:

What does Medicinal cannabis mean in the UK

2023. a great year for drug research

Medicinal Cannabis, the future



Liz Filmer