UK’s Home Affairs Committee Presses for Expanded Medical Cannabis Access Through NHS

In a groundbreaking revelation, the United Kingdom’s Home Affairs Committee (HAC) is advocating for more widespread access to cannabis-based medicinal products (CBPMs) via the National Health Service (NHS). However, alarm bells are ringing over the non-clinical application of these products.

Key Takeaways:

  • The HAC pushes for an improved pathway for patients to access CBPMs.
  • Concerns arise over the lack of NHS-issued prescriptions for medical cannabis.
  • Illegal market sourcing of medication remains a significant issue.
  • Greater accessibility is sought, despite high-profile cases like Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley.
  • The lack of a detailed execution plan raises red flags amongst supporters.

Recently disclosed on 31 August, the HAC’s report elucidates a series of recommendations on the prevailing drug policies to the UK government. One striking concern is the underutilization of CBPMs within the NHS framework, urging the authorities to address this pressing matter before the close of the current parliament.

Citing a prior revelation from the Minister for Health and Secondary Care, Will Quince MP, the report uncovers that a meagre five prescriptions for medical cannabis have been issued by the NHS this year. This lack of access appears dire in comparison to the overwhelming 140,000 CBPMs privately prescribed in England from November 2018 to November 2022, as per data from the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA).

Several drug advocacy groups, including Volteface and Cancard, have pinpointed the challenges patients face while navigating the existing medical cannabis access system. They flag the process as restrictive, expensive, and fraught with supply chain problems. Moreover, they argue that a general unawareness of the legality of CBPMs exasperates the issue.

The HAC report recognises the therapeutic potential of CBPMs, particularly in dealing with chronic pain, and encourages governmental support for further research in the field. However, it fails to provide concrete guidance or a clear plan of action for putting these recommendations into practice.

Katya Kowalski, head of operations at Volteface, commends the recommendations, but voices concern over the lack of clear directions on how to implement these changes. A sentiment echoed by Peter Reynolds, a prominent drug reform advocate, who criticises the report for doing little to advance the current state of access.

Despite criticism, there are those who welcome the report and its findings. Professor Mike Barnes, the first physician to secure a full licence for prescribing cannabis for medical use in the UK, lauds the report for identifying the issues surrounding CBPM accessibility.

However, sentiment towards the committee’s stance on the broader cannabis reform is less favourable, with the report expressing its belief against legalising and regulating cannabis for non-medical use, due to potential harm.

At the end of this breaking news revelation, we ask: What does BRITISH CANNABIS™ have to say?

BRITISH CANNABIS™ believes in supporting unbiased, scientific research into the full potential of medical cannabis. We will continue to monitor the discussions and developments surrounding CBPMs in the UK, striving to ensure that our consumers have the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

You can peruse the complete report from the Home Affairs Committee here.

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