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Medical Cannabis Under Prescription

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:14 pm on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 6:14 pm, 20th May 2019

I accept that point. In cases of children who need cannabis oil, I am aware of it being crowdfunded, which can be a valuable way of proceeding, but it seems a complete nonsense in a country that is proud of its NHS that people should have to go into the public arena to crowdfund a drug.

I have some questions about this short list that the GMC maintains of doctors who can prescribe medical cannabis. How accessible are these doctors, and what is the waiting time to see one? These are practical barriers to people getting the drugs they need.

A young girl in my constituency—her name is not important—has intractable epilepsy and there is a great hope that medicinal cannabis would improve the quality of her life. Many women who suffer the sort of pain and discomfort she suffers during her menstrual cycle take birth control pills, which eases the pain considerably, but she cannot do that because it reduces the efficacy of her epilepsy medication and leads to a radical increase in the number of serious fits. For Hannah—that is her name—her epilepsy is life-threatening, as she is in a high-risk group of epilepsy sufferers who could experience sudden unexpected death in epilepsy syndrome, and we ought to think about how we can make it easier for her to obtain these drugs and so make her life easier. I mention that because to make these points we need to bring this debate back to examples of real constituents.

My second point is that raised by my hon. Friend Michael Fabricant about the availability of guidance and training. In respect of both, there is a great lack of information, and it is not just us who lack information; so does the medical profession. We should do all we can to increase doctors’ knowledge and awareness so that, among other things, we can broaden out that list and GPs and family doctors can have the information they need to make decisions. I have no problem with this being a clinical decision rather than a political decision.