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Drugs advisory council urged to back rescheduling of cannabis

Drugs advisory council urged to back rescheduling of cannabis

The Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is being “strongly urged” to support the rescheduling of cannabis “to help patients in need”.

In an open letter, the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), a leading membership organisation for medical cannabis businesses, has called on the ACMD to formally recommend to the Home Office that cannabis be rescheduled for research purposes.

Within the letter, co-chairs of the Cannabis Industry Council’s Research Working Group, Melissa Sturgess and Dr Shanna Marrinan stated:

“In effect, cannabis used in a clinical trial still remains a Schedule 1 Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which necessitates extensive Home Office applications and clearances.

“It is therefore very difficult under the present regulations to run clinical trials which meet the stringent criteria required to obtain the data requested by NICE to expand access to cannabis-based medicines on the NHS.

“The industry has sought to provide substantive amounts of ‘real world evidence’, much of which suggests strong clinical effectiveness across a range of indications. This effectively uses cannabis as a Schedule 2 Drug prescribed by Specialists, but this on its own is not considered enough by regulators.

“The Cannabis Industry Council therefore supports the adjustment of the scheduling of cannabis for research and strongly urge the ACMD to make such a recommendation in your response to the Home Office.”

The ACMD are currently conducting a review of ‘barriers to research’ for schedule 1 drugs, following a request from Home Office Minister Chris Philp MP in late 2022. In the letter, Mr Philp stated: “The Government wants to ensure that research into controlled drugs continues to expand.”

During a parliamentary debate this week, Mr Philp acknowledged the current situation for drugs research was a “chicken and egg” or “Catch-22” scenario. The Minister added that there was “clearly a commercial as well as an academic benefit” to conduct research of “all drugs.”

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