A Labour MP has announced that he will introduce a Private Member’s Bill today to tackle the issues that are blocking patients and their families from accessing medical cannabis products in the UK.
Jeff Smith MP, representing Manchester Withington, will submit a proposal to improve patient access to medical cannabis for a number of conditions three years after the medicine was legalised in the country.
While medical cannabis was legalised in November 2018, there have, to date, been only three prescriptions provided through the NHS.
Campaigners and cannabis advocates have been fighting an uphill battle, but Mr Smith now has a plan to contribute.
He said: “It’s frustrating that three years on from the legalisation of medical cannabis, many of those who need the medicine are still in a desperate situation with hardly anybody able to get prescriptions on the NHS.
“With my Bill, I have tried to make common-sense proposals that I believe could move things forward. It aims to expand access to medicines for patients in the short term, as well as working towards getting more cannabis-based medicines licensed.
“My Bill offers a way forward, and I hope the Government might support it this Friday. If they aren’t happy with my proposals, we need them to be coming back quickly with another solution to this problem.”
Mr Smith’s proposal includes the creation of a register of GPs who would be able to train to become eligible to prescribe medical cannabis. Under the current rules, only specialist clinicians can prescribe cannabis-based medicines in the UK.
Under the proposals, the Labour MP would set up a Commission which would “look at all types of existing evidence, including from overseas, and propose a framework for the assessment of cannabis-based medicines for licensing.”
In an interview with Canex, former Tory Health Minister and MP Dan Poulter said he was also in favour of expanding the list of professionals who could prescribe medical cannabis in the UK.
He said then: “We need to remove the requirement that only doctors on the specialist register can prescribe cannabis medicines.
“GPs and other prescribers should be able to prescribe cannabis medicines to their patients when they decide it could help address an issue. They are on the front line and need to be empowered to make these decisions.”
He added, “medicinal cannabis in the UK could be a Great British success story.”
This may be one of the few topics a number of Labour and Tory MPs would agree.