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a cannibis leaf imageJuly 9 2018

The Chief Medical Officer has recommended rescheduling cannabis-based products as evidence indicates they have the potential for medicinal use.

Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 is for those compounds which “by definition have little or no therapeutic potential.” Recent publicity over medicinal uses for cannabis products has prompted the consideration for rescheduling the drug. 

The CMO, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has now made her recommendations following a review of the evidence for the therapeutic benefit of cannabis-based medicinal products. 

“The evidence that cannabis and some of its derivatives can be addictive and harmful has been known for some time and is not disputed by recent science, so I believe the reasons it is a controlled drug in the UK stand,” says her report.

“There is now however, conclusive evidence of the therapeutic benefit of cannabis based medicinal products for certain medical conditions and reasonable evidence of therapeutic benefit in several other medical conditions.” 

Having reviewed “robust” evidence, Prof Davies’s review says: “I believe that it would not make sense to move cannabis and its derivatives out of Schedule 1 whilst leaving synthetic cannabinoids, which the evidence suggests have potentially greater therapeutic benefit and less potential for harm, in Schedule 1. 

“I therefore recommend that the whole class of cannabis based medicinal products be moved out of Schedule 1.”

In publishing the review, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “This review forms part of a series of measures announced by the Home Secretary on 19 June 2018 looking at the scheduling of cannabis. Its conclusion signals the start of a second review, which will be led by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

“The ACMD will not reassess the evidence issued by Professor Dame Sally Davies but will provide an assessment, based on the balance of harms and public health needs, of what (if anything) should be rescheduled.”

Links:
DHSC announcement    
CMO Review: ‘Cannabis Scheduling Review Part 1 The therapeutic and medicinal benefits of Cannabis based products – a review of recent evidence’. July 3 2018. 

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