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Medical Cannabis Under Prescription

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:27 pm on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower 6:27 pm, 20th May 2019

I entirely agree, and I am very concerned about it. We have heard in the House this evening that people are growing their own cannabis, and there is a growing trade. There is an online family of people who are helping each other to obtain the most THC possible from different combinations of different plants. It is a complete industry. Why are the Government not getting a grip, and providing a proper, GMP-standard, pharmaceutical product for people?

I also want to talk about the cost, which is extraordinary. Has the Minister or anybody in her office done a cost-analysis? Alfie Dingley’s case provides a classic example: how much has he saved the NHS by not having emergency medication and not using the ambulance service to go into hospital? It seems nonsensical that we are not going down this road.

I want to talk about a couple of my constituents. Only a few weeks ago I had a visit from the parents of a 14-year-old son. My son is 14 too, so their situation struck a chord with me. Their son has intractable epilepsy. Mum has given up her job to look after him—he has a very efficient system around him. He benefits from a ketogenic diet and the next available medicine is Epidiolex. Epidiolex does not contain THC but she wants her child to be on a trial, and the trial is limited. A mum should not come to me begging for her son to be on a trial, but when I spoke to her about medical cannabis with THC she was reluctant to engage because of a fear of breaking the law and of not following the system properly. All our families are following a system. They are at the end of the road in terms of what medicine they can be given, so I want them to be given medical cannabis with THC as soon as we can.

NHS England is drafting terms of reference, and as co-chair of the APPG I appreciate its efforts. These children must have access, however; they must not be waiting three or four years. I urge NHS England to work collaboratively with the devolved nations because we need our children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have the same benefits.