Call for urgent Commons debate on wider access to medical cannabis

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine has called for an urgent debate to be held in the House of Commons over the rigid guidelines governing the prescription of medical cannabis.

Karen Gray at the Sick Kids with her son Murray Gray aged five who is suffering from a rare form of epilepsy.
Karen Gray at the Sick Kids with her son Murray Gray aged five who is suffering from a rare form of epilepsy.

After pressure from campaigners and MPs including Ms Jardine, the Home Secretary agreed to allow specialist doctors to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products earlier this year.

However, recently published guidelines by the NHS and a number of medical professional bodies are so tight that very few patients will be eligible for a prescription at all.

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Among those supporting Ms Jardine’s call for the debate is Karen Gray from Edinburgh whose six-year-old son Murray suffers from severe epileptic fits.

Ms Gray campaigned for medical cannabis to be prescribed on the NHS. She also lobbied to get Epidiolex, a medicine containing an ingredient from cannabis oil which she says has helped improve Murray’s condition.

Ms Jardine said: “When minsters agreed to legalise medicinal cannabis, thousands of patients suffering from extreme pain were offered a glimmer of hope that they would finally be able to access this life changing treatment but these overly rigid guidelines are causing immense disappointment and heartache.

“Even children at the heart of high-profile cases that played such a key role in changing the law would struggle to get a prescription. Some families are now in the outrageously unfair position of having to consider fund-raising to go abroad to access the medical cannabis that’s just been made legal here.

“I’m urging the Health Secretary to use every available means to work with the NHS, the General Medical Council and the relevant professional bodies to see these guidelines reworked so that they more properly reflect the historic law change that was announced in the summer.”

Ms Gray said: “I’m absolutely backing Christine Jardine 100 per cent.

“I think the reluctance over this issue is down to profit margins and the pharmaceutical industry thinking about their profit margins. If people are able to get ‘cannabis’ medication for a varied amount of conditions it means there would be no need to prescribe a whole of different medication. There’s also the medical profession - doctors have never had to prescribe cannabis so a good number are not up on all the latest research.

Ms Gray added: “We’re a way behind what other countries such as Canada, Holland and Spain do for their people.”