Medicinal cannabis – MS Society campaign

I sympathise profoundly with anyone who is living with a physical condition and is in search of the most effective pain relief. I know that several organisations, including the MS Society, are campaigning for changes in drug laws to make cannabis available for medicinal use.

While I do not agree with legalising cannabis for general use, I believe the Government should look carefully at the case for the use of cannabis or cannabis products as a medicine. Where there is evidence, the Government should consider the case for trials and the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 4. This would enable its availability for use in healthcare in the UK.

As you may be aware, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) administers the process by which medicines, including those containing controlled drugs such as cannabis, can be developed and subsequently prescribed and supplied to patients. In October 2016, the MHRA published its opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medicinal purposes “are a medicine” and offered regulatory guidance to any company that may wish to apply for a licence.

The Government maintains that the MHRA is open to considering marketing approval application for medicinal cannabis products and that the Home Office will consider issuing a licence to enable trials of new medicines to take place under the appropriate ethical approvals.

The Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill is a Private Members’ Bill which was introduced to Parliament on 10 October 2017. If enacted, the Bill would allow the production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes. I know that the MS Society has indicated its support for this Bill, which is due to have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 6 July 2018.

I assure you I will follow the progress of this Bill closely and bear in mind the points you have raised.