The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform along with United Patients Alliance and #EndOurPain submitted evidence and recommendations directly to the UK Government on September 13th 2016 from their recent initiative:
“Short Inquiry into the case for changing the categorisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes from Schedule 1 to a more appropriate Schedule”
|Clark French and Jon Liebling from UPA join #EndOurPain and and APPG at Number 10!|
We now have the Prime Minster Theresa May's response when Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham, Hall Green, asked this parliamentary question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will respond to the recommendations of the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs, published in September 2016.”
Sarah Newton MP, minister of state at the Home Office replied:
“The Prime Minister responded to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform’s report ‘Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs’ on the 27 October.
Cannabis is controlled as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and, in its raw form, currently has no recognised medicinal benefits in the UK. It is therefore listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001
It is important that all medicines containing controlled drugs are thoroughly trialled to ensure they meet rigorous standards so that doctors and patients are sure of their efficacy and safety. To do otherwise for cannabis would amount to a circumvention of the clearly established and necessary regime for approving medicines in the UK.”
Whilst disappointing, it is hardly a surprise that this is simply a copy/paste of the same tired position the UK government has held since 1971. Clearly, neither the PM nor any of her ministers have given any consideration whatsoever to the scientific evidence presented by top UK Neurologist, Professor Mike Barnes's bar setting paper nor the output from the 623 medicinal cannabis patients from United Patients Alliance's survey.
Frankly, this just isn't good enough when it is estimated that over 1 million UK citizens suffering from a range of conditions could have their health and lives improved immediately and whilst it is difficult to argue that "It is important that all medicines containing controlled drugs are thoroughly trialled to ensure they meet rigorous standards" this has to be set against the reality that we are literally years away from this process providing any sort of progress for patients who could be helped today with legal access to cannabis in various forms.
It is worth noting that in a recent meeting I had with Chris Tovey, Chief Operating Officer for GW Pharmaceuticals, he estimated that even Epidiolex, which has completed successful phase 3 trials and is close to approval for treatment in the US, is between 2 and 3 years away from approval in the UK. Any further cannabis based medications are, perhaps, 5 to 10 years away. Our patients cannot wait that long as has become quite clear across the globe.
With the recent progress in the US, Canada, Australia, 11 European countries and many other parts of the world, it seems inevitable that the UK government will have to look more closely and address its current unsustainable position on cannabis. However, if we want to see change happen more quickly then we must continue to increase the pressure on them and make sure that this issue remains in the public and political eye.
Of course, United Patients Alliance nor the APPG will be letting this lie. We have to make maintaining the status quo LESS comfortable for them than addressing it and plans are already in place to respond to the government including legal challenges, parliamentary motions and questions, media focuses and of course #EndOurPain will continue to bring more MPs and grow public support. More details on these plans will be forthcoming soon - Watch this space.
What can you do?
Sign up to support #EndOurPain here: http://www.endourpain.org/
Please write to your your MP, giving them the report that the APPG presented to the PM and demanding they they read it and respond to the evidence AND NOT just give the standard government line as above. Ask them to demand that the government give full consideration and a detailed response to the evidence and to each of the recommendations rather that just regurgitating their indefensible current position: Click here for how to do this
All the documents can be accessed here:
APPG Report: Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patient’s Needs
Professor Mike Barnes: Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use
United Patients Alliance: Medicinal Cannabis Patient Survey
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NOW is the time YOU can make a difference. NOW is the time to make ourselves heard. NOW is the time to support Cannabis as a Medicine.
Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance
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