Clinicians in the UK should have the option to prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products which meet appropriate safety standards to patients, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has today advised the Home Secretary.
Responding to a commission it received from the Home Office to review the scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products, the Council has said that there is evidence of medicinal benefit of some of these products in certain circumstances.
The Council has now tasked the Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency with producing a definition for these products, in order to allow them to be moved out of Schedule 1.
Chair of the ACMD, Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, said:
We have completed the first part of our review for rapid advice into the scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products.
We recommend that cannabis-derived medicinal products of the appropriate standard be moved out of Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. This means that medical practitioners would be able to prescribe such medications to patients with certain medical conditions.
At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity. It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective. The ACMD recommends that an appropriate definition be agreed by DHSC and MHRA promptly. Only products meeting this standard and definition should be given medicinal status.
Though we agree with the Chief Medical Officer for England that there is now evidence of therapeutic benefit for some cannabis-derived products in some medical conditions, we are also recommending that urgent clinical trials be carried out to better improve our understanding of these products.
As the understanding of the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis-derived products is still developing, the ACMD recommends that clinical trials urgently take place to further establish the safety and effectiveness of different products.
The ACMD has also recommended that synthetic cannabinoids, which are found in street products such as ‘Spice’, remain in Schedule 1 pending a longer term review by the ACMD.