Cannabis is a ‘Schedule 1’ drug, meaning that it is thought to have no therapeutical value, nor cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed.
However, due to the impact of a number of high-profile cases, such as those of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, who both suffer from severe epilepsy, the government has decided to review the legality of medicinal cannabis in the UK.
This decision was reached by home secretary, Sajid Javid, who stated: “if the review identifies significant medical benefits, then we do intend to change the rules”.
Alfie Dingley, a 6 year old from Warwickshire (West Midlands), was recently issued with a license to receive cannabis-based drugs. Alfie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, which causes him to experience around 150 seizures a month. After travelling to the Netherlands, one of the European countries in which cannabis is legal, the conditions of Alfie’s epilepsy improved, due to his intake of cannabis oil over there. Subsequent to this, Alfie experienced 300 days without any seizures.
Another prime example was that of Billy Caldwell, a 12 year old boy from Country Tyrone (Northern Ireland), another sufferer of severe epilepsy. Due to a medical emergency, Billy was granted a 20-day license to take cannabis-based drugs. Prior to this, the cannabis Billy and his family had had with them was confiscated at Heathrow Airport, London.
Home secretary Javid, however, is adamant that cannabis will “remain banned for recreational use”, and that potentially legalising cannabis for medicinal use will not be the first step to legalising it for other purposes.
There were 136,352 recorded drug offences in England and Wales (2016/17), most of which were due to possession of cannabis. Such statistics lead many to believe that the medicinal legalisation will lead to further allowances in the weed industry.
Diane Abbott, shadow home secretatary says that reviewing the legalisation of medicinal cannabis is a process “long overdue”.
20,000 children in the UK do not respond to medication prescribed by the NHS (National Health Service).
There are ongoing discussions about whether the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes will be permitted in the UK, as it already is countries such as Israel, Romania and Macedonia (only in severe cases).