As yet unpublished, but much publicised part 1 of the British Gov’t review on the potential of cannabis to be medicalized, rescheduled and prescribe for usage.
The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the report.
Interest is growing across the United Kingdom, and indeed the world, into the therapeutic benefit of ‘cannabis based medicinal products’* in the treatment of illness. In this review, I summarise the evidence for the Home Secretary as a “review of contemporary reviews”.
As the Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government, I have examined evidence of the medicinal benefit of cannabis based products to advise on the appropriateness of their place within Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and subject to designation under s7(4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
This evidence review is specifically for medicinal use, on prescription; it does not address the recreational use of these products. Cannabis has many active chemicals and only cannabis or derivatives produced for medical use can be assumed to have the correct concentrations and ratios. Using other forms, such as grown or street cannabis, as medicine for therapeutic benefit is potentially dangerous. The evidence that cannabis and some of its derivatives can be addictive and harmful has been known for some time and is not disputed by recent science, so I believe the reasons it is a controlled drug in the UK stand.
There is now, however, conclusive evidence of the therapeutic benefit of cannabis based medicinal products for certain medical conditions and reasonable evidence of therapeutic benefit in several other medical conditions. This evidence has been reviewed in whole or part, and considered robust, by some of the leading international scientific and regulatory bodies, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). As Schedule 1 drugs by definition have little or no therapeutic potential, it is therefore now clear that from a scientific point of view keeping cannabis based medicinal products in Schedule 1 is very difficult to defend. Moreover, I believe that it would not make sense to move cannabis and its derivatives out of Schedule 1 whilst leaving synthetic cannabinoids, which the evidence suggests have potentially greater therapeutic benefit and less potential for harm, in Schedule 1. I, therefore, recommend that the whole class of cannabis based medicinal products be moved out of Schedule 1.
Moving these drugs out of Schedule 1 would allow them to be prescribed under controlled conditions by registered practitioners for medical benefit. In addition, moving the whole class of cannabis based medicinal products out of Schedule 1 will allow the evidence base on the therapeutic benefits associated with using this class of drugs to be improved through research, maximising benefits to patients.