There will be an official review of the use of medicinal cannabis, the Home Secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that the ban on recreational use will continue, but he will consider the evidence for giving the drug on prescription.
He also said a licence is being issued today for Alfie Dingley to receive cannabis-based drugs.
‘It has become clear to me that the position we find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory,’ Mr Javid told MPs. ‘It’s not satisfactory for the parents, it’s not satisfactory for the doctors, and it’s not satisfactory for me.
‘I have now come to the conclusion that it is time to review the scheduling of cannabis.’
Currently, the UK government does not recognise cannabis as having any therapeutic properties.
Mr Javid said this was outdated and should be reconsidered.
However, he cautioned ‘this is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis. We will not weaken our ability to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.’
It is a step further then moves announced yesterday to create an ‘expert panel’ to look at individual cases.
MPs showed strong support for changes to the law, asking why doctors were able to prescribe heroin-based medicines but not those based on cannabis.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that the current laws on medicinal cannabis were not right, and said it was time to look for ‘a different way’.
And in an article in the Daily Telegraph, former Tory leader Lord Hague went even further and urged the Government to review Britain’s ‘failed (and) unsustainable’ cannabis laws, license medicinal use of the drug and consider creating a legal, regulated market for recreational users.
But the Home Office said the Government had ‘no intention’ of reviewing the classification of cannabis, which would remain a Class B drug.
And it said: ‘Any debate within government about the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based medicines does not extend to any review regarding the classification of cannabis and the penalties for the illicit possession, cultivation and trafficking of cannabis will remain the same.’
On Monday, Tory Crispin Blunt, who chairs the All-Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, urged the Home Office to ‘clear out of the way’ and let the Department of Health take control of policy on medical cannabis.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable backed calls for reform, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that decriminalising cannabis would be a ‘sensible step for the country to take’.
‘The second step would be to look at the various experiences of legalisation to make absolutely sure that we do not produce an epidemic, that we actually control use very considerably,’ he said.
‘The objective… is to prevent a situation where large amounts of this drug are in circulation in a very damaging form which is poisoning large numbers of young people and resulting in psychological damage.’