Closed petition Introduce 'Grow Your Own' Laws for Legal Medical Cannabis Patients (CBPM)
Patients prescribed 'CBPM' by a medical specialist should be allowed to maintain 3-6 flowering plants (with extra considerations for starting new seedlings.) 'GYO' registration database could be maintained via local council, notifying police of local medical grows - similar to Canadian setup.
There's ~25,000 legal medical cannabis patients across the UK, prescribed primarily bud/flower or refined oil extracts. Most patients face severe financial difficulty affording their prescription.
Many patients are unable to work, and are forced to turn to cheaper illicit sources due to affordability. "Grow Your Own" is available to cannabis patients in many other countries for this very reason, and must also be considered in the UK.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 7 September 2023
Cannabis cannot be cultivated except under a Home Office licence. The Home Office does not grant licences to grow cannabis for personal consumption and there are no plans to introduce this.
Read the response in full
The Government sympathises with patients suffering from distressing conditions and can understand the desire to seek the best possible treatment available.
In line with the advice of our experts, Cannabis-Based Products for Medicinal Use (CBPMs) were rescheduled to Schedule 2 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (the 2001 Regulations) on 1 November 2018. If the CBPM product is unlicensed (i.e. without a marketing authorisation granted in accordance with the medicines legislation applicable in the UK) and is being ordered otherwise than for a clinical trial, the decision to order/prescribe the medicine can only be made by a doctor on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. The law itself does not restrict which conditions CBPMs may be prescribed for and there is no legal impediment to specialists’ doctors prescribing CBPM where clinically appropriate and in the best interests of patients.
It is important to remember that only products meeting the definition of a CBPM, in accordance with medicines legislation, were rescheduled. The legislation continues to prohibit smoking of cannabis, by banning the administration of CBPMs by smoking.
Products not meeting this definition (other than cannabis-based medicines that have received marketing authorisation and have been separately scheduled) remain Schedule 1 drugs under the 2001 Regulations. Schedule 1 drugs cannot ordinarily be possessed or supplied except under a Home Office licence. Cannabis cannot be cultivated except under a Home Office licence and the Home Office does not grant licences to grow cannabis for personal consumption.
It should be recognised that expert advice does not support the substitute of street cannabis for CBPMs. In July 2018 the then UK Government’s Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Dame Sally Davies considered the available evidence of the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis-based products in “Cannabis Scheduling Review Part 1: The therapeutic and medicinal benefits of Cannabis based products – a review of recent evidence” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cannabis-scheduling-review-part-1) and concluded that:
“Cannabis has many active chemicals and only cannabis or derivatives produced for medical use can be assumed to have the correct concentrations and ratios. Using other forms, such as grown or street cannabis, as medicine for therapeutic benefit is potentially dangerous. The evidence that cannabis and some of its derivatives can be addictive and harmful has been known for some time and is not disputed by recent science, so I believe the reasons it is a controlled drug in the UK stand.” (Paragraph 1.3)
“This review covers only medical cannabis and cannabis based medicinal products designed specifically for medicinal use. Grown cannabis has over 100 active drugs, which can have a wide variety of concentrations and ratios creating different and often severe side effects. Most important are two drugs: tetrahydrocannabinol usually shorted to THC, and cannabidiol. THC has the great majority of the effect including harmful effects on the brain; cannabidiol to some extent counteracts this. Because different forms of grown cannabis have different concentrations and ratios of these drugs, grown or street cannabis cannot safely be substituted for medicinal cannabis.” (Paragraph 2.4)
The law change on CBPMs did not relate to funding these products by the NHS, which is governed by a range of processes and procedures to ensure equitable distribution of funding – prioritising those medicines that have proven their safety, quality, efficacy and cost effectiveness. This is a matter led by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The Government is taking an evidence-based approach to unlicensed cannabis-based medicines to ensure they are proved safe and effective before they can be considered for roll out on the NHS more widely. The latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines demonstrate a need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions for unlicensed cannabis-based products on the NHS. Until the evidence base improves, clinicians will remain reticent to prescribe and no decision can be made by the NHS on routine funding. That is why we continue to encourage manufacturers of unlicensed products to conduct research to support the use of their products and seek regulatory approval, and we offer scientific and research advice from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
The barrier to accessing these products on the NHS is one of evidence, not government regulation, and DHSC are working closely with regulatory, research and NHS partners to establish clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of these products.
Other parliamentary business
MPs investigate illegal drug use and its effects on society and the economy
A group of MPs called the Home Affairs Committee have published a report on the effectiveness of current laws on drugs and the impact of drug use in the UK.
- Read the Committee's press notice announcing this work.
Their report calls on the Government to implement the following key measures:
- A new legislative and funding framework that enables practical, risk-reducing interventions such as establishing a pilot drug consumption facility.
- A move away from an abstinence-only approach towards harm reduction with improved cross-working between police, health and social services.
- Greater provision of cannabis based products for medicinal (CBPMs) use where there is comprehensive evidence that it can be an effective form of treatment.
- An urgent reclassification of psychedelic drugs - such as psilocybin - in order to facilitate research on their medical or therapeutic value.
- Responsibility for drugs policy to be held jointly by the Home Office and the Department of Health.
The Government now must respond to the committee's report, which was published on 31 August, within two months. The committee will publish the Government’s response on its website.
What is the Home Affairs Committee?
The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.
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