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CPS Statement on law change: Cannabis for Limited Medical Use to become Legal

Thursday, November 1, 2018

From November 1st, doctors on the General Medical Council’s specialist medical register will be legally able to prescribe cannabis based medicinal products in situations where these products would be more appropriate for the treatment of an illness than licensed products.

Certain cannabis derived medicinal products will be moved to schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulation – which will allow doctors on the specialist medical register to prescribe them. This change will allow specialist doctors to prescribe Cannabidiol (CBD) products when they deem it medically appropriate without having to address an expert panel for approval. These changes have been made following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ASMD) and the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has been commissioned to develop more detailed guidelines for clinicians in the longer term.

The law change, announced by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, in July 2018 was made in reaction to two high profile reports on two young boys who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy and who have found CBD treatment to alleviate their symptoms.

Martin Green, CPS Chairman of the Board, said:

"We welcome this law change as it recognises in certain limited cases, that CBD products which are deemed safe and effective by specialist doctors for certain patients. It is important that people understand that medicinal cannabis will still be extremely limited in its use. CBD products can only be prescribed by specialist doctors and even then, only when there are no clinically licensed products that are appropriate for the patient. This law change does not mean the legalised prescribing of cannabis products to just anyone."

Professor Harry McQuillan, CEO of CPS, said:

"Our community pharmacies are committed to providing the best care possible to the people of Scotland. In the opinion of healthcare experts this law change is the right thing to do for some very specific cases and so we support this change as being in the best interest of those patients. However, we do not anticipate that this law change will have much impact on the work of our pharmacies and will be making our network aware of how to source these CBD products as this will bring a new challenge to our pharmacy network."

The Department for Health and Social Care released this publication which clarifies that:

“Due to the limited evidence base and their unlicensed nature, the Government has chosen to restrict the decision to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use to only those clinicians listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. This restriction has been set out in regulations.”