Clinicians in the UK should have the option to prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products where appropriate, drug experts have concluded, paving the way for laws prohibiting their use to be relaxed.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has advised the government that cannabis-derived medicinal products “of the appropriate medicinal standard” should not be subjected to Schedule 1 requirements of the misuse of drugs regulations 2001.
Schedule 1 drugs by definition have little or no therapeutic potential, such as hallucinogenic drugs, raw opium and currently all forms of cannabis. While cannabis derived medicines could be moved down into Schedule 2, the ACMD did stress that raw cannabis of unknown composition should remain in its category.
The Council is now recommending that the Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency “promptly develop a clear definition of a cannabis-derived medicinal product,” so that these can be moved into Schedule 2.
Additional frameworks and clinical guidance for ‘checks and balances’ to maintain safe prescribing of Cannabis-derived medicinal products must also be developed, while clinical trials to establish their safety and efficacy are “urgently required”, it added.
Earlier this month, a review by Dame Sally Davies concluded that there is evidence to show the therapeutic benefit of cannabis-based medicines for some conditions, triggering the ACMD’s review into their rescheduling.
“I am grateful to the Chief Medical Advisor for her review of the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis and to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for their short-term advice on scheduling,” said home secretary Sajid Javid.
“I am carefully considering both recommendations and will make a decision shortly.”