By Amanda Chell
The review by the Home Office was announced following high-profile coverage of the cases of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley, who both have forms of intractable epilepsy that appear to be eased by the use of cannabis oil.
Currently Cannabis is a controlled drug as classified by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
This was followed up by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations Act 2001 and was placed in Schedule 1, which is the category for substances with no medicinal value.
Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids, which have different impacts on the body and are concentrated to different extents in certain parts of the plant.
The most well-known of these are THC and CBD.
THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid – the one that recreational users use to get “high”. CBD does not have this effect.
While almost all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD – or cannabidiol as it is also known – is not.
The oil that has been in the news recently due to its use by those with epilepsy is cannabis oil, which has a higher THC content, and so, unlike CBD oil, is not usually allowed in the UK.
The government ruled last month that cannabidiol could be used legally from the Autumn for medicinal purposes following several high-profile cases, including that of young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.
Over the last two months, the UK has been moved by the plight of Alfie Dingley and his family.
Alfie Dingley, is a 6-year-old boy who suffers regular, life-threatening seizures. The fact that he cannot access a medicine that he knows works has shocked many.
Alfie’s family have made significant progress in making the government hear their case, and are waiting in hope and anticipation for the Home Office to finally do the right thing and grant Alfie a license.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that specialist doctors in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products however Javid has made it very clear this is in no way a step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
Reference BMJ, The Independant