Medic­i­nal cannabis is il­le­gal to use in the uk - but that hasn’t stopped firms sell­ing it abroad

Nottingham Post - - NEWS - By ALICE CACHIA

THE UK is the world's big­gest ex­porter of le­gal cannabis - even though it's against the law to use it in this coun­try.

A United Na­tions re­port pub­lished ear­lier this year found that the UK is re­spon­si­ble for more than two thirds (67.7 per cent) of the world's med­i­cal cannabis ex­ports - or 2.1 tons.

But the gov­ern­ment treats cannabis as a Class B drug - mean­ing it's il­le­gal in the UK, even for med­i­cal use.

The Home Of­fice an­nounced last month that med­i­cal cannabis will be avail­able for pre­scrip­tion from au­tumn - but for the mo­ment it re­mains against the law.

Trans­form is a cam­paign group ar­gu­ing for the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of drugs - par­tic­u­larly med­i­cal cannabis.

Steve Rolles, Trans­form's se­nior pol­icy an­a­lyst, said: “UK pa­tients are ei­ther de­nied ac­cess and suf­fer­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily, or are forced to buy cannabis from the crim­i­nal mar­ket. “Coun­tries with proper ac­cess to med­i­cal cannabis do not have this prob­lem, as stan­dard­ised cannabis prod­ucts are in the hands of doc­tors and phar­ma­cists.

“It is pro­foundly un­eth­i­cal, and a vi­o­la­tion of the fun­da­men­tal right to health, to deny peo­ple ac­cess to medicines that are pre­scribed by their doc­tors.

“The gov­ern­ment must re­lax re­stric­tions that grant a mo­nop­oly for a sin­gle prod­uct to a sin­gle com­pany. It must al­low ac­cess to cannabis-based medicines that serve pa­tients' needs – what they don't need is the gov­ern­ment's cruel and mis­guided war on peo­ple who use drugs. “Home Of­fice Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid re­cently com­mis­sioned an ini­tial re­view into cannabis-re­lated medic­i­nal prod­ucts.

In the light of that, chief med­i­cal ad­vi­sor Pro­fes­sor Dame Sally Davies, said: “It is now clear that from a sci­en­tific point of view keep­ing cannabis-based medic­i­nal prod­ucts in Sched­ule 1 is very dif­fi­cult to de­fend.” Sched­ule 1 drugs are those which have lit­tle or no ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial.

And at the end of July, Mr Javid re­cently an­nounced that cannabis-de­rived medic­i­nal prod­ucts will be made avail­able on pre­scrip­tion from au­tumn.

He said: “Fol­low­ing ad­vice from two sets of in­de­pen­dent ad­vis­ers, I have taken the de­ci­sion to resched­ule cannabis-de­rived medic­i­nal prod­ucts – mean­ing they will be avail­able on pre­scrip­tion. “This will help pa­tients with an ex­cep­tional clin­i­cal need, but is in no way a first step to the le­gal­i­sa­tion of cannabis for recre­ational use.” There is one cannabis- based drug - Savi­tex - that can al­ready some­times be pre­scribed for peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­vere symp­toms of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. Some 2,642 items of Savi­tex were pre­scribed in Eng­land and Wales last year.

Graphic by KELLY LEUNG

The UK is re­spon­si­ble for more than twothirds of the world's cannabis ex­ports

Med­i­cal cannabis will be le­galised in au­tumn this year

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