Expert reaction: Home Office reschedules cannabis-based products for medicinal use

Posted on 18 October 2018

An expert in addiction and mental health reacts to the Home Office announcement that cannabis-based products can be used to treat some medical conditions from 1 November 2018.

Ian Hamilton, from the Department of Health Sciences, said: "While it is encouraging to see the Home Office take steps to improve access to cannabis products for medicinal reasons, the process of obtaining cannabis as a medicine will be problematic for some. The difficulty will be for patients and their doctors in deciding whether a cannabis-based product is appropriate and likely to have any benefit for their health problem.

Disappointing

"NHS England suggests that three patient groups will be included: those with epilepsy, chronic pain and nausea as a result of chemotherapy. This restriction will be disappointing to many people who had hoped they could legitimately access cannabis via their GP.

Guidance

"Even if a patient's health condition falls within one of the three listed problems we don't know how well informed GPs are about the evidence related to the specific condition the patient has.

"Although the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is in the process of producing guidance on the topic this won't be available until October 2019."