An influential drugs advisory body is calling for medicinal cannabis to be made available to treat medical conditions in the UK.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has advised the government to allow cannabis-derived products to be given to certain people with health conditions who could benefit from the drug.
Several studies have linked cannabis to positive effects in diabetes, and it will be interesting to learn whether diabetes is one of the conditions where cannabis-derived products may be introduced. Reduced inflammation and pain from neuropathy, as well as improved blood sugar control, are among the reported benefits of cannabinoid substances.
Moreover, several users on our Diabetes Forum have reported benefits from cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), which became legally available in Europe for the first time in 2015. CBD oil does not contain the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The ACMD recommendations were made after two boys with rare forms of epilepsy – Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley – were granted short-term licences to use cannabis oil to control their seizures, with the cases making national headlines.
The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 Act has two schedules. The first contains a list of substances deemed illegal and the second indicates drugs which can be prescribed by doctors.
The council has proposed a definition to be created for cannabis-based products which are medicinal, and that this would act as a test to decide on movement to schedule 2.
The government would need to create the definition, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the recommendations would need to be “carefully” considered.
Another recommendation put forward by ACMD was for clinical studies to be undertaken to and gain more knowledge about medicinal cannabis-based products and establish their safety and effectiveness.
ACMD chair Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, said: “At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity. It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.
“The ACMD recommends that an appropriate definition be agreed by DHSC [Department of Health and Social Care] and MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] promptly. Only products meeting this standard and definition should be given medicinal status.”
Earlier this month Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said clinicians should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis because there was strong evidence to back up its therapeutic benefit.