The UK Home Affairs Committee demands sweeping changes to government policy on drug prescription amid an ongoing healthcare controversy. Based on their latest report, the committee pushes for broader access to cannabis medicines under the NHS blueprint, although they express some reservations about non-medical applications.
- The committee’s report demands a rethink on drug policy and increased accessibility to medical cannabis for patients in need.
- The current systems for accessing medical cannabis have been labelled as “restrictive”, stirring calls for reform.
- Advocacy groups have highlighted the risks of the thriving black market trade for medicinal cannabis, urging for a change in legislation.
This groundbreaking report, released on the final day of August, provides various counsel for governmental drug policy modifications. Among its significant findings, the panel reveals concerns surrounding the limited NHS access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs), pressing ministers to resolve this issue by the next parliament’s end.
In a previous disclosure
Health and Secondary Care Minister, Will Quince MP, stated that fewer than five prescriptions for medicinal cannabis were issued through the NHS, a figure which according to a Cannabis Health FOI request in August 2023, remains unchanged. The true discrepancy becomes apparent when considering that NHS Business Service Authority data recorded over 140,000 private prescriptions for CBPMs dispensed in England between November 2018 and November 2022.
Highlighting the Barriers
In providing evidence for the report, UK drug advocacy groups Volteface and Cancard spotlight the significant number of patients sourcing their medication through the black market. The organizations declare the current protocols for accessing medicinal cannabis as ‘restrictive’ and ‘costly’, plagued by consistent supply chain troubles.
Volteface raises the issue of widespread ignorance of the legality of medical cannabis, evident in data showing that around half of the UK population remains uninformed that medical cannabis can be prescribed.
Access continues to be limited despite severe cases like Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, children with rare and severe epilepsy forms who have benefited significantly from medical cannabis. The committee recognises the potential therapeutic value of CBPMs for chronic pain treatment, pushing the government to back researchers conducting randomised control trials in this field.
BRITISH CANNABIS™ Weighs In
Here at BRITISH CANNABIS™, we welcome the committee’s recognition of the issues surrounding medical cannabis provision. We believe that instead of functioning as a barrier, the NHS should aid accessibility for those in need of CBPMs. Patients shouldn’t have to turn to the black market for their medication, and much-needed reform is long overdue.
While the committee’s recommendation to expand access to cannabis-based medicines is promising, the new directives can be seen as rather vague, with many stakeholders looking for clearer guidelines.
Hopefully, this report will be a catalyst for change to provide easier access for the masses who could significantly benefit from CBPMs. It should serve as a reminder to the government that countless people are suffering, and the time to act is now. Even so, the general stance on non-medical cannabis usage remains cautious, emphasizing the potential harm it could pose to individuals and communities.
The full Home Affairs Committee report is available for public access, allowing everyone to assess and understand its content and implications for the advancement of cannabis accessibility reform within the UK.