July 20, 2018, UK
A Drug policy committee in the UK has suggested in a short-term advice to legalize medical cannabis. The Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has recognized the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and hence recommends that physicians should be allowed to make MMJ prescriptions.
In addition, the committee also wants to reschedule the strain under the guideline of drug misuse. Chairman of ACMD, Committee has also pointed out that the rescheduling of the drug would help in expanding the domain of cannabis-related research. Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones is of the thought that patients with some particular medical conditions should have access to the therapeutic strain of cannabis. Dr. Own has also suggested that the regulations and SOPs for MMJ therapies and treatments and the protocols governing them should be worked out by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
On establishing the definition of standard MMJ products considered safe for administration by patients, their families and physicians, ACMD recommends that DHSC and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) should work together. And only those products should be given medicinal status that is green-lighted by both regulatory bodies.
It is worth mentioning that this proactive approach of ACMD hasn’t stemmed out of a vacuum. The infamous case of a 12-year old epileptic Irish boy Billy Caldwell, who was denied the use of cannabis, has stirred this development. A couple of weeks ago, the case has made into the international headlines. The worldwide traction on the issue forced the Home Secretary to ask the ACMD to commence the review study on the therapeutic use of cannabis.
The Case of Billy Caldwell
Billy was granted a special permission from the government to use medical cannabis to treat his epileptic seizures. However, the government abruptly revoked this facility without furnishing any reason. To get the required MMJ treatment, Bill along with his mother flew to Canada.
The case came into limelight when the Heathrow immigration officials confiscated Billy’s medications upon the family’s arrival from Canada. The officials didn’t budge and gave back the medications even after Billy’s mother explanation of his particular condition. As a result, Billy couldn’t take his medication, which eventually culminated in a first seizure attack in months.
In the next couple of days, Billy suffered from continuous seizure attacks and ended up in hospital. The critical situation of the boy finally swayed the government to grant a special provisional MMJ license to Billy Caldwell.
Following the case of Billy, the government has granted provisional MMJ license to another minor epilepsy patient. Public pressure and extensive media coverage also factored in to force the government into taking the pertinent action.
ACMA has also noted that doctors can execute the whole prescription process within a week or two. With the availability of medical cannabis products that are already in use in different countries, it would also be easy for the regulators to approve them. All the recent maneuvering on medical cannabis in the UK is reflective of the fact that with each passing day the acknowledgment of the therapeutic benefits of the strain is swelling.
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