11 September 2018

Families 4 Access gathered “first impression” reactions to today’s letter from Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, ACMD Chair to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the Health Secretary Matthew Hancock.

“It was overall a positive statement, and we are particularly glad to see that full extract cannabis products are to be allowed. The worrying element of the letter is that it is still viewed as medicine of “last resort” and that the prescription can only be made by specialist clinicians, and is not extended to allow cannabis experts to do the job alongside them.  As we know, very few clinicians are eager to prescribe medicinal cannabis because they are not hugely familiar with it. I wish this part of ACMD’s recommendation was reconsidered.”

Mike Barnes, Hon Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation & Medical Cannabis Expert

“We agree with the ACMD that cannabis-based medicinal products should meet quality and safety standards such as GMP certification. We also commend the ACMD for promoting education and guidance in the use of cannabis-based medicines for clinicians. However, it is a mistake to limit the prescription of medical cannabis to being a last resort after all the other clinical options have failed. There is a great deal of real world and scientific evidence showing that cannabis-based medicinal products have significantly better side-effect and safety profiles than many authorised pharmaceuticals on the market, so it seems illogical that a patient should have to try all of the other potentially more harmful options before trying medical cannabis.” 

Amanda Feilding, Beckley Foundation 

“This is an enormous step forward towards ensuring access to medical cannabis for those in need and this should be celebrated. We need to work with all stakeholders to create a scientifically sound, safe and effective system within the UK for assessing, marketing, prescribing, dispensing and using medical cannabis.  

For individuals using, or wanting to use, medical cannabis it is important to note that only products prescribed by a doctor will be legal to use. Only medical cannabis products that have been assessed to meet predefined safety and quality standards will be rescheduled to Schedule 2. All other products would remain Schedule 1, although a doctor prescribing may be able to prescribe an unlicensed product. This would mean that patients who use any other cannabis product medically would still commit an offence.”

Dr. Lina Elliason, PhD, CPsychol

“There are a lot of positive points in the report. I was encouraged to read that the requirements for safety and quality assurance are crucial, along with accurate labelling of the THC and CBD content of products, with broad access routes.  It's also great to see the committee encourage the training for prescribers. As a cannabinoid researcher since 2002, I‘m particularly pleased to see the recommendation to capture data on clinical outcomes from CDMPs and that the NIHR supports clinical trials with CDMPs. It is crucial that we gather data to continue to support the medicinal value of cannabis based products.”

 Saoirse O'Sullivan PhD, Associate Professor at The University of Nottingham

“In the most part, this is a very encouraging, detailed whilst cautious document containing sensible and well thought through recommendations. We are really pleased that the ACMD have highlighted a number of very important challenges that must be addressed as a matter of urgency, such as education within the medical profession, encouraging clinical trials and the collection of clinical data, all of which are absolutely critical to an effective and inclusive medical cannabis access policy and process. However, since there is good evidence that cannabis can be safer and more effective for many patients and for many conditions than currently available drugs we see no reason to classify them as a “product of last resort”.”

Jon Liebling, United Patients Allience

“We welcome the ACMD’s latest statement, and also that it is addressed to both the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary, which signals that the issue is finally moving into the realm of the Department of Health. We are particularly relieved to see that the ACMD acknowledges that it is unfair to put all responsibility for prescribing cannabis-derived medicine on clinicians, and suggests for the guidance to be issued to medical professionals, and that’s exactly what we’ve been calling for. Glad that our feedback has been listened to.”

Marina Kim, Families 4 Access