The decision, effective November 1, to the rules on treatments follows widespread public outcry over two boys — Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell — with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil.
The cases prompted a review of medicinal cannabis, launched in June by Home Secretary Sajid Javid — it concluded there was substantial evidence medicinal cannabis had therapeutic benefits, and doctors should be able to prescribe such products. The decision was officially mandated in July.
New NHS guidance for doctors in England says cannabis can be prescribed when there is clear published evidence of its benefit and other treatment options have been exhausted. GPs remain precluded from prescribing cannabis-based products, however.
Treatments contain varying quantities and ratios of THC, the psychosomatic compound that makes users feel ‘high', and CBD, a compound scientists the world over are investigating for its potential medical benefits.
Previously, almost all cannabis-based medicinal products were classed as Schedule One drugs, and judged to have no therapeutic value. Sativex, a treatment containing THC and CBD, was one of very few already approved — albeit only via the granting of a special license by the Home Office. Now treatments meeting "appropriate standards" have been reclassified Schedule Two.