Medicinal cannabis: What is it and is it legal in the UK?
The law on medicinal cannabis changed in the UK in November 2018
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Charlotte Caldwell, the mother of 15-year-old Billy Caldwell, has brought her legal campaign to acquire medicinal cannabis for him through the NHS to an end.
Mrs Caldwell and her son made headlines in 2018 when officials at London’s Heathrow airport confiscated cannabis-based medicine from them, which had been obtained in Canada to treat his epilepsy.
Billy has refractory epilepsy, which can cause him to have a hundred seizures a day.
The following year, the family launched a legal challenge against the NHS and the department of health in Northern Ireland over access to his cannabis-based medicine.
According to the Belfast News Letter, the legal proceedings were withdrawn at Belfast’s High Court on Monday 7 September 2020.
The Honourable Mrs Justice Keegan stated: “There will not be a need for further litigation, which is the last thing this family needs.”
Barrister Monye Anyadike-Danes QC, who represents Mrs Caldwell, added: “My client thinks this matter can best be pursued through the RESCAS [Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service] panel.”
The RESCAS panel, which is led by Great Ormond Street Hospital, was created in order to bring together paediatric neurologists who specialise in epilepsy, to support patients by offering their expertise.
Mrs Caldwell will now correspond directly with the health professionals on the panel to discuss her son’s access to treatment, urging them to ensure her son’s prescription is funded, the News Letter said.
Speaking on BBC’s The Emma Barnett Show on Monday 7 September, Mrs Caldwell said that over the past 18 months, she and Billy have been through a “very, very torturous ordeal”, with her son being “left high and dry by the powers that be”.
She explained that Billy was referred to the RESCAS panel in July this year, with the panel of eminent UK doctors coming to the conclusion “that there are no legal or clinical barriers to medical cannabis access for Billy”.
So what is medicinal cannabis, what conditions is it used to treat and is it legal to prescribe in the UK?
What is medicinal cannabis and is it legal in the UK?
The term “medicinal cannabis” is used to refer to any form of medication that contains cannabis, the NHS states.
In the UK, cannabis is classed as a Class B drug.
If a person is found in possession of cannabis, they could face up to five years in prison and/or a fine, according to the government.
If they are found to be supplying and producing the drug, they could face a life sentence, in addition to an unlimited fine.
Medicinal cannabis, on the other hand, is legal in the UK.
On 11 October 2018, the government announced that from 1 November 2018, expert doctors would be given the authority “to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines when they agree that their patients could benefit from this treatment”.
The government emphasised that only a “specialist doctor” – and not a GP – can prescribe “these unlicensed medicines”.
“They must make decisions on prescribing cannabis-based products for medicinal use on a case-by-case basis, and only when the patient has an unmet special clinical need that cannot be met by licensed products.”
If a product – such as CBD oil or hemp oil – is marketed as being a form of medicinal cannabis, there is “no guarantee these are of food quality or provide any health benefits”, the NHS states, explaining that these products can be bought legally as food supplements.
CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the marijuana plant.
Products that contain CBD (cannabidiol) are not illegal in the UK, as long as they only contain trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
What conditions is it used to treat?
As explained by the government, while medicinal cannabis is legal, it can only be prescribed by specialist doctors on a case-by-case basis.
In England, only patients with certain health conditions are likely to be prescribed medicinal cannabis, the NHS says.
These include: children and adults who have rare, severe forms of epilepsy; adults who have undergone chemotherapy, which has caused them to vomit or suffer from nausea; and patients with multiple sclerosis whose health condition has caused them to experience muscle stiffness and spasms.
“It would only be considered when other treatments were not suitable or had not helped,” the NHS adds.
The health service states that the “risks of using cannabis products containing THC (the chemical that gets you high) are not currently clear”, which is why further clinical trials are needed.
However, the majority of cannabis products are likely to “contain a certain amount of THC”, the NHS explains.
Side effects of medicinal cannabis can include a decreased appetite, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhoea and nausea.
1 /1 Is medicinal cannabis legal in the UK?
Is medicinal cannabis legal in the UK?
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Is cannabis illegal in UK and where is weed legal to smoke and buy?
- 28 Dec 2019, 18:30
- Updated : 20 Apr 2020, 13:39
- Invalid Date,
MARIJUANA has been illegal in the UK since 1928 – but will laws around the Class B drug be relaxed?
Here’s everything you need to know about drug laws on cannabis as they currently stand.
Is marijuana illegal in the UK?
Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow in the UK.
Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.
Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.
Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home?
Like all drugs in Britain, weed is regulated extremely stringently by the Government.
As the punishments suggest, it’s completely illegal to smoke weed anywhere in Britain – including on your own property.
However, some police forces have taken a more laid-back attitude to the recreational drug, which is believed to be the most popular in the UK.
Prosecution rates for cannabis possession are as low as 15 per cent in Cornwall and Devon, while Durham Police have said they will no longer target recreational users at all.
Is medical marijuana legal in the UK?
Medical forms of marijuana are available over the counter or by prescription in the UK – but it is heavily monitored and regulated.
Doctors were given the go-ahead to prescribe cannabis products to patients from November 1, 2018.
The new rules apply to England, Wales and Scotland, Sajid Javid said in a written statement.
It follows several high-profile cases, including young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.
In order for a cannabis product to be considered medicinal it must meet three requirements: it “needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans and; is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product”, according to Mr Javid’s statement.
In July 2019, it was ruled that the NHS could prescribe cannabis-based medicine to treat Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
Trials of the drug were carried out at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital on children who were having multiple seizures a day.
Results showed the drug stopped the seizures in many cases and significantly reduced them in others.
The decision by the European Medicines Agency has to be confirmed in two months, but that is expected to be a formality paving the way for the liquid medicine to be available on the NHS later this year for dozens of children affected by the two conditions.
Where is weed legal?
Weed has been decriminalised for personal use in a number of countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.
Canada legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2001. But in October 2018 Canada became the first G7 nation to legalise recreational use of the drug.
In Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia it is legal for medicinal purposes.
Some US states have legalised marijuana while others allow it for medicinal use only.
New York state was the latest to decriminalise recreational use in July 2019.
Possession of small amounts of the drug will be punished with fines rather than jail time, a step short of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of legalising pot.
The Liberal Democrats became the first major British political party to support the legalisation of cannabis in March 2016.
How many people in the UK smoke weed?
The use of most drugs has declined in the UK since records began in 1996, according to a 2016 Home Office survey.
It found that cannabis was by some distance the most commonly used drug, with 6.5 per cent of adults aged between 16 and 59 smoking in the previous year.
Weed was also the most popular among those aged between 16 and 24, with 15.8 per cent using it in that same time.
The next popular drug was powdered cocaine.
When did cannabis become illegal in the UK?
Cannabis was banned in 1928.
Its medical use was outlawed in 1971 and growing plants was made illegal in 1964.Here's everything you need to know about cannabis ]]>