are in Medical / THC4MS
Office reply to the open letter from UKCIA of January 7th 2007
letter from UKCIA
you for your letter of 7th January to the home Secretary about the THC4MS court
case and the law relating to the medical use of cannabis. Your letter has been
passed to the Crime and Drug Legislation and Enforcement Unit and I have been
asked to reply.
will know that Mark and Lezley Gibson and Marcus Davise were each given a nine-month
suspended prison sentence on 26th January with regard to their convictions for
conspiracy to supply cannabis in the form of cannabis-laced chocolate bars to
multiple sclerosis sufferers. However, it is not appropriate for me to comment
upon matters relating to a particular case, especially where there may be an appeal
a general level, the unauthorised supply and possession of cannabis for whatever
purpose (recreational or therapeutic) is a criminal offence and any persons engaging
in such activity are liable to prosecution whatever their motive for doing so.
It is reasonable to believe that they will have some knowledge of the possible
consequences of this unlawful activity.
arrest, investigation and subsequent prosecution of people who supply or possess
cannabis for therapeutic purposes is a matter for the police and Crown Prosecution
Service, not the Government, to decide in accordance with the law and all circumstances
of the case.
Government has no plans to review the legal situation regarding the medicinal
use of cannabis and, in particular, no intention of legalising the use of cannabis
in its raw form for medicinal purposes. However, it recognises that there are
people with severe pain and debilitating illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis,
who cannot satisfactorily alleviate their symptoms through the use of existing
is why the Government has said that it would seek Parliament's agreement to make
any necessary changes tot he law to enable the prescription of cannabis based
medicine, for the purpose of relieving pain, but not before the granting of product
approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
would not be appropriate for the government to circumvent or undermine the well-established
process attached to the evaluation of the safety, quality and effectiveness of
all prospectively prescribable products by the MHRA. It is a process which is
designed to protect public health. Doctors must be confident about what they prescribe.
In order to protect public health, the Government faces difficulty in making any
changes to the law unless and until it is satisfied that the benefits have been
formally established by the statutorily recognised means. This position is supported
by the British Medical Association.
company GW Pharmaceuticals have been seeking a licence for their cannabis based
medicine, Sativex, but in June 2005 they were refused on the grounds of insufficient
efficacy. Pending further clinical trial, there is therefore no early prospect
of a prescribable cannabis based medicine, licenced in t he UK, becoming available
to multiple sclerosis sufferers.
the less, Sativex was granted a marketing authorisation in Canada where it has
been licenced for the relief of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis under the
terms of a conditional licence. Home Office ministers made clear in November 2005
that imports of Sativex from Canada will be allowed under licence issued by t
he Home Office Drugs Branch Licensing Section (here at 2 Marsham Street). It can
therefore be prescribed to individual patients under the clinicians personal responsibility.
licencing system is fully operative. A blanket licence was issued to cover, upon
application with t he relevant patient details, any doctor wishing to prescribe
Sativex, the pharmacist to dispense the drug and the patient to possess it, without
the requirement to be individually licenced.
it is a patient or a doctor who first contacts our Licensing Section about the
prescribing of Sativex, the Home Office asks for the doctor to supply patient
details (name and address) and a brief indication of the clinical requirement
for the drug (for example, pain associated with multiple sclerosis etc). This
information is then passed to GW pharmaceuticals who will contact the doctor to
discuss treatment, suggest prescribing regimes, etc. In some instances, the doctor
may contact GW Pharmaceuticals direct in the first instance. In either scenario,
all those in the chain (ie doctor, pharmacist and patient) will be covered under
the reports of cannabis being contaminated with Glass particles, you will probably
know that the Chief Medical Officer issued an emergency alert on 17th January
through he public health warning system and a copy of the text is enclosed. This
alert has also been disseminated through he FRANK website, the National Treatment
Agency for Substance Misuse, the substance misuse practitioner networks and the
Association of Cheif Police Officers.