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Expert Reaction: Licensing arrangements for accessing medicinal cannabis

Posted on 28 June 2018

The Home Office has released new licensing arrangements for accessing cannabis for medical reasons. Lecturer in Mental Health, Ian Hamilton, comments on the process:

What does the new licensing arrangement mean for patients?

Ian Hamilton, Lecturer in Mental Health from the University of York's Department of Health Sciences, said: "The Home Office secretary has announced the process that will assess applications for access to cannabis for medical reasons.

"Many people will be hoping that the Home Office promise of making this process 'swift and accessible' will be true. But this looks unlikely as there are several caveats.

"First is an eleven page application form which also has to be accompanied by a senior doctors recommendation. Secondly the senior doctor has to confirm that all other treatment options have been exhausted and that they will accept full responsibility for risks and liability.

Limited research

"This is a big ask as there is a very limited research evidence that doctors can draw from in relation to the therapeutic use of cannabis, with many studies having been conducted on animals rather than humans.

"There is also a fee to be paid for such a licence which currently stands at over £3000 pounds, although this will be reviewed and the Home Office have made clear it is the clinical team that should pay not the patient or their family.

"Once the application is made it will be considered by an expert panel who will then aim to make a 'swift' decision as to whether a licence should be permitted.

"This whole process looks challenging and falls short of what many people who believe cannabis is the answer to their health problems were hoping for."

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