Medicinal cannabis is to be legalised in the UK following an announcement from Home Secretary Sajid Javid today (July 26).
Specialist doctors in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-dervived medical products by the autumn. Other forms of cannabis still remain illegal.
The announcement follows a government review into the use of medicinal cannabis in direct response to recent high-profile cases where children with epilepsy were denied access to cannabis oil to control their seizures.
- Read More: Damian Marley and Professor Green call for medicinal weed legalisation in NME symposium at Parliament
Billy Caldwell, 12, suffered seizures after his cannabis oil was confiscated when officials at Heathrow Airport.
His mother attempted to bring the bring the drug into the UK from Canada, claiming that her son’s seizures were significantly reduced after taking the oil.
The Home Office recently granted a short-term license to be able to access treatments in light of the Caldwell case. Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.”
He continued: “This is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on license applications in exceptional circumstances.”
The decision also follows calls from the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, to legalise medicinal cannabis alongside the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs who also called for patients with certain conditions to be allowed access to the drugs.
Speaking at the event, Damian Marley said: “We have a saying in Jamaica that: ‘The herb is the healing of the nation.’ With it becoming legal in various places, there’s now slowly more research that proves there is evidence of that.”
Meanwhile, Professor Green was critical of media “hysteria” around debates about the legalisation of the drug.
Green, the host of the critically-acclaimed BBC documentary Is It Time to Legalise Weed? said: “I think it’s a generational thing, to be honest, and I don’t think we have a very liberal attitude to much. What happens with that is you have a lack of education because things aren’t spoken about.”
“We’re less liberal when it come to many things when you compare us to other parts of the world, and what we get from that is many more problems. It doesn’t help anything, all it does it cause more problems. If something’s underground, it’s not spoken about. It’s all the scare-mongering in the media. How many times do you see ‘cannabis psychosis’ in the newspapers?”
Andrew Boff has claimed that making the drug legal would reduce crime and mental illness amongst young people who take the drug.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Boff said: “We are handing the distribution of cannabis to criminals and…putting young people at risk, both from knife crime as gangs fight for market share and from being exposed to black market drugs that are particularly dangerous to health.”
Meanwhile, reaction to the news poured in on social media.
Making medicinal cannabis available on prescription will benefit the lives of ill patients currently suffering in silence. There is nothing harder than seeing your loved ones in pain – which is why I have taken this decision https://t.co/ZFmGgWdJgE
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 26, 2018
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) July 26, 2018
— Kevin EG Perry (@KevinEGPerry) July 26, 2018
More reaction to follow