§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is towards prescription of cannabis for medicinal purposes by NHS doctors. 597W
§ Mr. Hutton
We consider that doctors should not prescribe cannabis until the quality, safety and efficacy of a medical form have been scientifically established and a marketing authorisation issued by the Medical Control Agency. This is a procedure that all prospective new medicines must go through.
When the benefits of a cannabis-based medicine have been scientifically demonstrated, the Government would be willing to amend the misuse of drugs controls to allow the prescribing of such a medicine.
There are currently two trials under way. The first, a three-year study to attempt to measure the therapeutic effects of cannabis in people with multiple sclerosis, is due to report early in 2004. This study has received £950,000 from the Medical Research Council.
The second trial is being managed by GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd. with the aim of developing a cannabis-based medicine. Initial findings from this trial are expected later this year.