’The issue is whether lower levels of evidence (not sufficient to get MHRA authorisation) are sufficient to make a change in the legislation so that people can access ’medicinal cannabis’ legally at their own expense.
The use of small amounts of cannabis for personal use might be decriminalised if the strategy is adopted.
The substance misuse strategy says it will look at political and public interest in the medical use of cannabis.
It recognises the international debate regarding how to convict and punish drug users in the case of personal use.
The report says: ’Therefore, we will, review the evidence for clinical effectiveness of medical cannabis.
It also says that the government should undertake an evidence-based review on decriminalising small amounts of cannabis for personal use, based on experience elsewhere.
The strategy says that both reviews will include evidence on benefit and harms and become part of the wider debate on future policy and strategy.
Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford MHK said: ’Evidence for clinical effectiveness needs to be assessed alongside evidence for safety and potential for adverse side effects.
’We cannot prejudge what the findings of the systematic review will be. For any drug there is a balance between benefits and harms and, if the drug is to be prescribed on the National Health Service, cost effectiveness also needs to be considered.
Mr Ashford added that there is only one cannabis derived medicine (Sativex spray) under licence in the UK and the island, used to relieve the more severe symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
But, due to the costs, ’Sativex is not cost effective so it is not available on NHS prescription either in the United Kingdom or here’.
Mr Ashford added: ’The issue is whether lower levels of evidence (not sufficient to get MHRA authorisation) are sufficient to make a change in the legislation so that people can access ’medicinal cannabis’ legally at their own expense.
This is not a decision for DHSC since it is not about DHSC-funded or provided treatments.
’It is a decision which is ultimately a political one and is for Tynwald rather than any single department.’
Mr Ashford also stressed that, as stated in the strategy, the DHSC was looking only at medicinal cannabis and decriminalisation of small amounts for personal use and not widespread legalisation at this stage.
Image – PA images