The British home secretary Sajid Javid has said that the use of cannabis for medicinal reasons in the UK is to be reviewed.
He said the government will reschedule marijuana-based products if there is evidence of medical benefits adding that recreational usage will still be illegal.
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The decision was prompted by recent high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil to control their seizures.
The home secretary has authorised a licence to be issued for six-year-old Alfie Dingley, after his mother said she had been waiting three months for Theresa May to fulfil a personal assurance that he would be allowed to receive cannabis oil.
The Independent reports: Mr Javid said the commission would first have experts look at the evidence for the medical benefits of cannabis, and then government advisors recommend what products might be rescheduled.
But he underlined that there is no question of the government legalising cannabis for recreational use, saying penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain in place.
The issue has been thrust to the forefront of political debate after the mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who had cannabis oil to treat his epilepsy which was confiscated from her at Heathrow, demanded a change in the law.
Mr Javid told MPs: “It has become clear to me since becoming home secretary that the position we find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory. It is not satisfactory for the parent, it’s not satisfactory for the doctors and it’s not satisfactory for me.
“I’ve now come to the conclusion that it is time to review the scheduling of cannabis.”
Mr Javid explained that part one of the commission will review evidence for the benefits of a range of cannabis based medicines and be taken forward by professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer
Her work will inform which cannabis-based medicines should be considered in part two of the commission, which will be led by the advisory council on the misuse of drugs.
The council is to then provide ministers with an assessment of which products, if any, should be rescheduled.
Mr Javid said: “If the review identified that there are significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule.
“We have seen in recent months that there is a pressing need to allow those who might benefit from cannabis based products to access them.”
He said in the period that the commission carries out its review, requests for urgent access to cannabis for medicinal use will be considered by a panel of experts, announced by the government yesterday.