Medicinal cannabis oil will be available on prescription from next month, the Home Secretary said on October 11.
From November 1, UK laws will change to allow cannabis-based products for medicinal use to be prescribed in England, Scotland and Wales, according to a written statement from Sajid Javid.
The dramatic change to policy follows several high profile cases of patients being denied products containing THC, the psychoactive compound that makes users ‘high’, came to light.
Epileptic boy Billy Caldwell was even banned from taking cannabis oil that was prescribed to him abroad.
He was given back the medicine after a high profile campaign spearheaded by his mother forced Mr Javid to grant a 20-day emergency licence for its use.
Billy Caldwell’s mother Charlotte (pictured together) had seven bottles of cannabis oil confiscated at Heathrow Airport customs, prompting a row over cannabis oil
The Home Secretary has insisted today’s change is not the first step towards the broader legalisation of cannabis.
Mr Javid announced on 19 June that the Misuse of Drugs Regulations act of 2001 was being reviewed in a two-part investigation to allow for the prescription of medicinal-cannabis products.
In the first part of the review, the chief medical advisor, Professor Dame Sally Davies, concluded there was evidence that medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits.
The second part, carried out by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), recommended drugs that meet a clear definition of a cannabis-derived medicinal products should be placed in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
Cannabis was previously considered Schedule 1. Drugs in this class are thought to have no medicinal value and therefore cannot be legally possessed or prescribed.
Schedule 2 drugs, such as ketamine, are those that can be prescribed and supplied by doctors and pharmacists. They can also be legally possessed by anyone with a prescription.