Is medical cannabis about to be legalised in the UK?
That would seem to be the logical next step given the healthy profit being made off of medical cannabis in the US, Canada and other places.
The debate has become a mainstream one with well-known parliamentarians arguing the case for legalisation in the House of Commons and popular celebrities like Sir Patrick Stewart championing the cause on Television and in the papers.
Despite this rising campaign for the legalisation of medical cannabis, there remains an annoyingly large amount of opposition and resistance.
So what is changing now that could potentially lead to legalisation in as little as two weeks? (at least for some).
A long form report in The Independent sheds light on the case of Billy Caldwell, a 12 year old from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and how this child’s unique situation could be the catalyst for a major reform in UK cannabis legislation.
A panel has been formed by The UK Home Office to look into this case. It transpires that Billy’s Mother, Charlotte had the cannabis oil she used to treat her son’s seizures confiscated by The Home Office.
Charlotte Caldwell brought the cannabis oil into the UK with the intention of using it for her son. However, in perhaps a one of it’s kind case, an emergency license to use the oil was granted as Billy suffered multiple seizures and had to be admitted to a hospital in critical condition.
The Home Office say the panel will come to a quick verdict. If it is agreed that that medical cannabis can be used in critical cases, approval could be given to GPs to begin medical cannabis prescriptions and the ban on cannabis as a medicine may potentially be lifted.
Even in such a scenario, were it to happen, these prescriptions would be limited to cases where there is no proven alternative and GPs will bear full responsibility for any risks or liability. The rules would be stringent but this would still be a huge step towards a change of attitude and behaviour regarding medicinal marijuana in the United Kingdom.
A further result of this case is the government will now review the cost of an NHS medical cannabis licenses. Whatever changes are made, the cost will not be handed down to patients which will come as a sigh of relief to families who may benefit from this legislation change.
Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary has disclosed that a two part review will be made into the current legislative position of medical cannabis. Some of this review will be done by Professor Sally Davies and the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
An audit of any evidence pertaining to the therapeutic and medicative properties of products such as cannabis oil will be undertaken.
The second part of the review will be concerned with reviewing the various types of cannabis based medicines and deciding which ones should be legalised. The panel will assess the pros and cons of each medicinal form cannabis can take and act accordingly based on perceived benefit.
It is not clear, however, if any of these products will be made legal or if the recreational use of cannabis will be considered for legalisation.
The case of Billy Caldwell is a particularly severe one. The 12 year old boy has suffered up to 100 seizures in a day. Under these circumstances, the government granted a 20 day license to use cannabis oil, an indicator perhaps of how serious a case needs to be if indeed medical cannabis is made legal.
The current status of recreational cannabis use in the UK is class B. Cannabis is illegal to use with possession leading up to a potential 5 years imprisonment and supply leading to 14. Under the current laws, possession is illegal regardless of it’s intended use including medicinal purposes. CBD oil which contains extracts of the cannabis plant is legal but the THC level cannot be higher than 0.2%
CBD oil is currently available as a food supplement and can be sold as one legally but as we’ve made clear throughout our website, cannot yet be called or referred to as having medicinal properties despite it seeming, certainly in this case, that it does.
There is one exception right now and that is a product called ‘Sativex’, a cannabinoid based spray available to a limited few on NHS prescription but only in Wales.
Sativex is prescribed to help MS sufferers who experience spasms. Some are campaigning for the medicine to be introduced like Nick from Surrey, a former Gymnast and military serviceman who suffers from a number of debilitating conditions like Fibromyalgia and Sciatica. Nick wrote to the Cannabis Law Reform website telling his story in detail which can be read here.
Those campaigning for reform to the existing cannabis legislation in the UK point to other countries like the United States, Canada and European nations like Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. They argue that the UK is dragging behind the US and the other countries who have made cannabis or medicinal cannabis legal. More and more countries are also relaxing their laws such as Spain who now allows citizens to use cannabis in private and even grow it privately.
Another fact these campaigners point out is that the UK is the largest producer of medical cannabis in the world (although this may not last for much longer). They feel there is a certain level of hypocrisy in growing vast amounts of the substance and yet withholding it from UK citizens.
As it stands, this could all change in less than a months time and if legislation changes, medical cannabis will most likely be restricted to the most extreme cases in the UK. This would however be vindication for long time campaigners who as previously mentioned, include parliamentarians across the political divide from the right to the left.
Even the notoriously conservative and right wing publication The Sun published an article entitled ‘Large majority of British public in favour of cannabis being legalised for medical use’ stating that 85% are in favour of the legalisation of medical cannabis.
The tragic cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell have raised awareness among the public for the need for change.
Let’s hope the message finally gets across and that the decisions are based on the wellbeing of UK citizens rather than the revenue that would surely mount up.
The tides are changing and we’ve been ready for some time. If you want the finest organic CBD products available, you’re in the right place.