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Government reject Lords recommendations on
legalising medicinal cannabis use
of the Lords report, the Home Secretary immediately
rejected any suggestion of legalising medicinal use
of cannabis. The written response was published in March
1999, justifying the immediate rejection on the grounds
that they had a settled position on the availability
of cannabis for therapeutic purposes and that otherwise
speculation might regard the question as open.
did welcome the research of GW pharmaceuticals, and
indicated willingness to licence medical research and
trials involving cannabis or cannabinoids via the Home
Office Drugs Inspectorate. However the Government rejected
the Lords' recommendation that there were compassionate
grounds for allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis in
advance of the outcome of clinical trials as 'premature',
and that allowing use of raw cannabis with unknown cannabinoid
content would hinder development of suitable medicinal
did not consult the Advisory Council on the Misuse of
Drugs on this matter justifying this on the grounds
that as no change in the law was proposed by the Government
there was no legal obligation for consultation. However
they would be willing to consider rescheduling of cannabinoids
with clear therapeutic potential.
also rejected the Lords' recommendation that Doctors
be allowed to prescribe cannabis on a named patient
basis, considering such an option would place undue
burdens on doctors, both in terms of civil liability,
and from patients putting undue pressure on doctors
to prescribe for ailments outside any recommended guidelines.
They considered that allowing the smoking of raw cannabis
would 'seriously blur the distinction between misuse
and therapeutic use' and 'send confusing messages to
the public about the risks of misusing the drug', fearing
that recreational users would claim therapeutic use
and that the prescription had been lost. They considered
that a medicinal form would be readily distinguishable,
with minimal risk of diversion to the illicit market.