Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, and his fellow co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Cannabis under Prescription have slammed the delivery of the new policy of legalising access to medical cannabis in the UK.
Following high profile campaigns over the summer by the families of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, the Home Secretary initiated a major review of Government policy in this area which resulted in the re-scheduling of medical cannabis from Schedule 1 reserved for drugs perceived to have no medical benefit, to Schedule 2 which allows it to be prescribed.
The new law came into effect on 1st November 2018.
Sir Mike said:
“The rescheduling of the medical cannabis was a bold and decisive political move and I commend the Prime Minister and Home Secretary for responding to the public mood so quickly.
“However, the way that the NHS and a number of medical professional bodies have implemented this historic and much welcomed policy change is nothing short of shameful. The NHS guidance and associated recommendations from the likes of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) published on 31st October have effectively shut down the policy, crushing the hopes of many thousands of patients and their families.
“We are now in the quite frankly cruel and ludicrous position of families with severely epileptic children once again having to fundraise to go abroad to get access to a medicine that we have just legalised in the UK. And the guidance and recommendations are so restrictive that if they were applied to the very children involved in the campaigning that led to the change of policy, such as Alfie Dingley, they wouldn’t be granted a prescription.
“This is a classic case of the NHS and the medical profession snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. These guidelines must be recalled and reviewed, and fast. Those responsible for this botched and cruel outcome should hang their head in shame. I have total respect for individual clinicians who I know are dedicated to their patients. But something has gone very wrong here.”
Sir Mike added, “We will be using every Parliamentary method available to raise this issue in Parliament. And I am aware that the support group End Our Pain (www.endourpain.org) is working with patients and lawyers to mount a legal challenge against the guidelines and recommendations. We will not rest until this is put right.”