Medicinal cannabis will be available on prescription within a month in the UK after Home Secretary Sajid Javid was convinced to lift restrictions.

Up until now marijuana has only be permitted in exceptional circumstances and just two epilepsy sufferers have been able to secure it from a legal, regulated source. But the Home Office is set to change all that, with an announcement expected in the next fortnight. In less than a month, British patients will be able to secure CBD oil that contains THC in order to treat their conditions.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society is delighted with the news after it had campaigned for MS sufferers to gain easier access to cannabis. It expects 10,000 of them to benefit in the UK. “This is very encouraging progress for thousands of people with MS who have been forced to choose between living with relentless pain and muscle spasm or breaking the law,” said director of external affairs Genevieve Edwards.

It will also be music to the ears of epilepsy sufferers, who have been left extremely frustrated by their inability to gain easy access to cannabis. England’s chief medical officer conducted a study into medicinal cannabis this year, and the findings have convinced Javid to take a softer approach to it.

The latest news suggests that Britain could yet emerge as a regional leader in the field. Cannabis has been all but decriminalized for recreational use, but turning medicinal marijuana into a regulated industry is a game-changer.

Studies suggest that 28 million people are living with chronic pain in Britain and they could all benefit from cannabis use. People undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment can also benefit. The market could, therefore, be huge for medicinal cannabis.

The UK already grows a significant amount of marijuana, but economists have feared that Germany and Denmark – Europe’s more progressive countries in this field – would leave it behind due to its outdated policies.