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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the processing time of Letters of Declaration for the import of cannabis-based products for medicinal use by the Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit; what steps she is taking to tackle delays in that processing; and if she will make a statement.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the guidance document entitled, The supply, manufacture, importation and distribution of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans specials, published by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in March 2020, what steps the Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit in her Department is taking to speed up the process of granting import licences for cannabis-based products for medicinal use since that guidance was published; and if she will make a statement.
All applications are considered individually on their merits and with regards to our obligation under International Conventions and Domestic law. Applications for importation of Cannabis Based Products for Medicinal Use in Humans (CBPMs) are already expedited, where documentation and regulatory approval is provided, in recognition of the need to ensure continuity of the supply of unlicensed medicines.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency guidance- “The supply, manufacture, importation and distribution of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans specials” - was updated in March 2020 to enable pharmaceutical wholesalers to move from a system where they can only apply to import the quantity specified on a prescription, to a system that allows the import of CBPMs in anticipation of prescriptions.
Licensed wholesalers could hold supplies of products to be drawn on when in receipt of a prescription from a specialist doctor on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register. The Drug & Firearms Licensing Unit (DFLU) continues to expedite applications made in response to this updated guidance, where all relevant documentation and regulatory returns have been made by the wholesalers.
No officials have been seconded from the Drug and Firearms Licensing Unit. Since 25 March 2020, it has delivered its regulatory functions remotely, issuing a total of 1,699 controlled drug import-export licences.
It is presently operating a next day turnaround for applications where all required information has been submitted with the application.