Cannabis: Medical Treatments

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department's policy is on the availability of medicinal cannabis; and if he will list the medical conditions that the NHS treats with medicinal cannabis.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to review his policy on the prescribing of medicinal cannabis.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

On 1 November 2018, the law was changed to allow clinicians on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Specialist Register to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use, where clinically appropriate and in the best interests of patients. The law does not restrict the medical conditions for which these products may be used, and the decision of whether to prescribe is ultimately one for clinicians to make on a case by case basis.

Two reviews have taken place since this change in the law:

- On 8 August 2019, NHS England and NHS Improvement published its review into barriers to accessing cannabis-based products for medicinal use on NHS prescription which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/barriers-to-accessing-cannabis-based-products-for-medicinal-use-on-nhs-prescription/

- On 11 November 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), following a review of the available evidence, published guidance on the prescribing of cannabis-based medicinal products which is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng144

This demonstrates a clear need for more evidence to support prescribing and funding decisions of cannabis-based medicines for intractable nausea and vomiting; chronic pain; spasticity; and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for cannabis-based medicines and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review.

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