Health written question – answered on 20th October 2004.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment has been made of the merits of using cannabinoids for the relief of (a) pain and (b) symptoms of multiple sclerosis and nausea.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Department supports scientific research into the therapeutic use of cannabinoids, the unique ingredients of cannabis. This research may produce longer-term solutions to relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other clinical conditions.

A Medical Research Council (MRC) supported clinical trial to attempt to measure the therapeutic effects of cannabis extract in persons with multiple sclerosis was published in November 2003. The MRC supported it with a grant to Dr. John Zajicek, a consultant neurologist at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, to undertake a three-year study. Current details about Dr. Zajicek's clinical trial including the author's summary of the findings may be found at the trial website at

In addition, a programme to develop a medicine derived from cannabis for pain relief and associated conditions for multiple sclerosis patients is also under way. The work is led by Dr. Guy of GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Current details about the clinical trials being sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd. may be obtained from the company's website at clin index.html.

As a result of these trials, a marketing authorisation application for Sativex, cannabis extract containing tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, was received by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) from GW Pharmaceuticals in 2003.

This application is currently under assessment by the MHRA. The MHRA will grant a marketing authorisation when it is satisfied that the appropriate standards of quality, safety and efficacy of Sativex have been met.

With regard to the merit of using cannabinoids for the relief of symptoms of nausea, a marketing authorisation exists for Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid with anti-emetic properties. Nabilone is indicated for the control of nausea and vomiting, caused by chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer, in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional anti-emetic treatments.

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Nick Wells
Posted on 8 Jun 2009 11:14 am (Report this annotation)

It is really good that medical cannabinoid research is being carried out in this country now.
Apart from those current researches, there has to be a serious look at the anti-tumourial properties of cannabinoids!
Tetrahydrocannabinol has been shown to kill tumour cells through apoptosis (programmed cell death), and to prevent angiogenesis, which can prevent tumours becoming malignant!
Why is our country not leading the World in this exciting field?