Will patients benefit from a change in medicinal cannabis use law?

5th February 2019

By Kate Barge, Senior Litigation Executive at Fletchers Solicitors

In an article by the BMA, clinical research has identified that moderate use of cannabis helps to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. There is also evidence that it has anti-cancer properties in relation to basal cell carcinoma.

It has also demonstrated efficiency and safety in relation to treating chronic pain. Other clinical trials have produced dramatic results in relation to Crohn’s disease with fifty percent of patients achieving complete remission. It is also well known that cannabis is a safe and effective palliative treatment for Multiple Sclerosis [1].

In June 2018, the Home Office launched a review into the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis based products for medicinal purposes. A review by Professor Davies, Chief Medical Officer, assessed the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis based products for medicinal use in humans on prescription and found that there is benefits for certain medical conditions.

She recommended that the whole class of cannabis based products be transferred out of the misuse of drugs regulations 2001. [2]

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) concluded and recommended that cannabis derived medicinal products of the appropriate standard to be moved from schedule 1 and subject to further refinement be moved into schedule 2.

This means that cannabis based products of the appropriate standard will be able to be prescribed to meet a clinical need [3]. The Government has subsequently decided to lay regulations to move cannabis based products for medicinal use out of Schedule 1 and into schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. The regulations came into force on 1st November 2018.

Patients can now receive cannabis based medicines on prescription and the new law does not place limits on the conditions that cannabis can be prescribed for.

However, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said that: “The law will not limit the types of conditions that can be considered for treatment, but pharmacy teams should note that the Home Secretary has said that the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession remain unchanged”. [4]

Many patients will benefit from this change in the law. The President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Professor Ashok Soni OBE, said: “The prospect of a future where safe and effective licensed cannabis- based medicines can be prescribed to help relieve suffering is genuinely exciting.” [5]


[1] Clear Cannabis law reform medical cannabis the evidence

[2] Department of Health and Social Care gateway publications 08539

[3] Department of Health and Social Care gateway publications 08539

[4] Community pharmacy news analysis and CPD

[5] The pharmaceutical journal 11/10/18

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