The British government has officially announced that medicinal cannabis is legal and doctors can start prescribing it from Nov. 1.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid laid down the law change in parliament on Oct. 11 after listening to pleas from parents of children suffering from epilepsy and other conditions. Doctors no longer need to gain approval from a specialist panel and they can dish out cannabis to Brits suffering from a wide range of conditions.
“Having been moved by heart-breaking cases involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis,” said Javid, who was just named the Most Influential Londoner of 2018 by the London Evening Standard. The newspaper is edited by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who seems keen to see Javid become the country’s next Prime Minister.
Javid took the first steps towards rolling out a regulated medicinal cannabis industry earlier this year, when he created the special panel that could permit it in extreme cases. But the panel only approved two licenses and parents complained that they were caught up in too much red tape. Javid said he was grateful to the panel, but it has now been disbanded.
GPs are not allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis, but specialist doctors that focus on fields like neurology and paediatrics now have the ability to do so. They will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. NHS England, the British Paediatric Neurology Association and the Royal College of Physicians will provide training to British doctors in this field. “The prospect of a future where safe and effective licensed cannabis-based medicines can be prescribed to help relieve suffering is genuinely exciting,” said Ashok Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
Patients in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will all be able to source medicinal marijuana if they gain approval from a doctor, after Javid amended the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations.
It brings the UK in line with countries like Germany, Italy, Denmark, Australia, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Israel, Jamaica, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, plus a number of US states, which have all permitted medicinal cannabis. However, Javid insisted that he has no plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use, as is the case in Uruguay and soon to be Canada and South Africa.