HC Deb 19 November 2003 vol 413 cc1104-5W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in trialling cannabis for medicinal use; and if he will make a statement. [137563]

Miss Melanie Johnson

The Department supports the evaluation of the therapeutic use of cannabis by clinical trials, and is working with organisations able to conduct high quality clinical trials that will put this research onto a scientific footing. A Medical Research Council supported clinical trial to attempt to measure the therapeutic effects of cannabis extract in people with multiple sclerosis was recently completed by Dr. John Zajicek, a Consultant Neurologist at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Further information on the trial can be accessed at http://www.cannabis-trial.plymouth.ac.uk/

A programme to develop a medicine derived from cannabis has been ongoing in the United Kingdom. The work is led by Dr Guy of GW Pharmaceuticals Limited. Current details about the clinical trials being sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals Limited may be obtained from the Company's website at http://www.gwpharm.com/rese clin index.html.

If the benefits of a cannabis-based medicine are scientifically demonstrated, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will move to seek Parliament's agreement to any necessary changes to the misuse of drugs legislation. It would be premature to take such a step before the quality, safety and efficacy of the medicine have been fully established.