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Epilepsy Society welcomes Government decision to relax licensing of medicinal cannabis

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Epilepsy Society welcomes Government decision to relax licensing of medicinal cannabis

Please note that there are further updates to this news story which you can read at the links below:
Specialist doctors can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for epilepsy (1 November 2018)
Medicinal cannabis can now be prescribed by specialists for epilepsy (12 October 2018)

A government decision to relax the licensing laws around cannabis-derived medicinal products has been welcomed by Epilepsy Society.

The charity's chief executive Clare Pelham said: “This is a good and prompt decision by the Home Secretary. And brings our regulatory system into the 21st century. We have world class science and world class research in the UK. And we look to the Government to support us with world class regulatory systems which enable us to provide the best possible medical treatment to patients in this country. These changes will go a long way towards providing us with a system which is both evidence-based and person-centred. We at the Epilepsy Society welcome it. 

We are very pleased that the Home Secretary has put compassion for people with epilepsy and other conditions at the heart of his thinking on this, and acted with commendable despatch."

Doctors to prescribe by autumn

The Home Office announced on Wednesday (26 July 2018) that licensing laws would be relaxed, paving the way for doctors to be able to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients in the UK from the autumn.

Products that meet safety and quality standards will be made legal for those showing "exceptional clinical need."

Before the changes become law in the autumn, doctors will still be able to apply to an expert panel for medicinal cannabis on behalf of patients. Licence fees for applications will be waived and those already granted will not be charged.

Not first step to legalising cannabis

The Home Office has yet to define exactly what constitutes a "cannabis-derived medicinal product" and emphasised that this would not open the door to licensing cannabis products such as synthetic cannabinoids which are known to cause harm. Nor would this be a first step to legalising cannabis in the UK.

An initial government review by Dame Sally Davies, chief medical adviser, found that there was sufficient evidence to show that medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits. A second part of the review, carried out by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), concluded that doctors should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis as long as safety standards are met.