Close this search box.

Medical Cannabis Access Bill To Be Debated By UK Parliament Today

MOVES to boost medical cannabis access to UK patients are set to be discussed in parliament today.

Labour Party MP Jeff Smith’s Medical Cannabis Access Bill is set for its Second Reading in the lower chamber; the House of Commons.

The Bill proposes allowing cannabis medicines to be prescribed by the nation’s 50,000-plus GPs rather than solely specialist doctors.

It also proposes establishing a Commission on Cannabis-Based Medicines which will be empowered to implement ‘measures to overcome barriers to access in England and Wales’ within six months of the bill being passed into law.

Chances Of Success Are Slim

However, as a Private Members Bill the chances of its success are slim and dependent on the support of the majority Conservative Government which has yet to indicate any position on the proposals.

It is also currently dealing with the fall-out from last year’s Christmas Covid party – ‘that never was’ – which is said to have taken place in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s no 10 Downing Street residence.

Despite allowing medical cannabis to be prescribed through the National Health Service in November 2018 just three prescriptions have been issued – all to children struggling with epilepsy.

The existing guidelines permit only clinicians to prescribe medical cannabis and, at this stage, there is believed to be only one willing practitioner after the two other practising clinicians retired.

Siân Philips

Siân Philips, Managing Director of the UK-based Cannabis Trades Association, welcomed the bill for addressing the fault-lines in the UK’s existing medical cannabis legislation.

Establishing A GP Register

She said: “Following the legalisation of Medicinal Cannabis in 2018, there was a tide of hope for many patients managing their conditions with cannabis. 

“After a few months it became obvious that this was not going to be the ‘easy road’ for them. MP Jeff Smith’s Private Members Bill has actually addressed the primary problem of access to CBPMs, not only for children with epilepsy, but the multitude of other condition sufferers who manage their symptoms with cannabis.

“I hope this opens up the market to the NHS and allows for more cannabis based medicinal products to be prescribed by specialist GPs across the UK. 

“This Bill is not an excuse for recreational users to have cannabis legalised. Like every prescribed and OTC medication, there must be regulation in place to prevent abuse.”

Crispin Blunt MP, co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, said: “It is a sad reality that since access to medicinal cannabis was legalised in the United Kingdom in 2018, only three children have been able to access this treatment pathway through the NHS. Tens of thousands are benefitting from access through private prescriptions.

“Personal finances shouldn’t define which treatments you are able to access – especially not in the UK, where we rightly herald free access to treatment at the point of use for all who need it.

Observational Trial Evidence

“Everyone who needs to access this medicine should be able to secure it and this is why I wholly welcome my Co-chair on the APPG on Drug Policy Reform Jeff Smith’s Private Member’s Bill today. We must get this right for the scores of epileptic children and thousands of patients who desperately need this medicine.”

In additional ‘explanatory notes’ filed by Mr Smith to parliament he outlines some further details, which include; 

•Requiring the General Medical Council (GMC) to operate a register of General Practitioners (GPs) who may prescribe cannabis-based products in England

•The Commission will sit alongside existing Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and will tasked with recommending any other measures to overcome barriers to access to cannabis-based medicines on the NHS within six months of the bill passing

•It says the Commission will be required to consider the role of evidence other than from conventional controlled trials, including from observational studies and other countries in which cannabis-based medicines are more widely available

No Response From No 10

BusinessCann approached the Prime Minister’s No 10 Downing St media team for a comment, but in reliably lethargic state, press office fashion we were referred to the Department of Health and Social Care which has yet to respond, and is unlikely to be dragged into what it will view as a political matter.

However, one medical-cannabis supporting MP speaking briefly to BusinessCann, while welcoming the bill, says there will be many roads to cross for it to make it to the statute table.

Private Members Bill Second Readings are pieces of legislation which are brought forward by individual MPs on Fridays when many MPs are heading back to their constituencies.

They lack the the support of the ruling Government, in this case the Conservative Party, and as such they have slim chances of success.

They can easily be defeated in the House of Commons by a number of methods including filibustering which sees them talked-out due to lack of time.

If the Second Reading secures a majority, this means the bill has been approved in principle and will then be sent for further scrutiny.  

These could include a number of amendments when the bill returns for its report stage, from the committee stage, and it will then have to encounter the House of Lords Private Members’ Bill process.

With medical cannabis on the NHS in limbo the private sector has stepped-in to fill the gap with and estimated 7,000 patients now seeking succour at a minimum cost of £150 a month.

A recent survey of 1,000 GPs found that over half believe cannabis-based medicines could benefit patients who have exhausted conventional treatments, while 27% felt it could offer improved quality of life.

Parliamentary proceedings are set to start at 9.30am. To view the live feed click here

Related Posts

Related Posts


Related Posts

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Related Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list to receives daily updates!

We won’t spam you


Browse by Tags




© 2023 Prohibition Holdings Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?