On Saturday on BBC radio the Home Secretary said there was nothing to stop those who believe cannabis has therapeutic value from applying for a Home Office licence to test the drug. There are currently three licences allowing medical research with cannabis.
However, to satisfy the Government of the efficacy of cannabis, large- scale trials are needed using a controlled dose of the drug, and this cannot be done without the involvement of the pharmaceutical companies, who have been reluctant to touch cannabis because it is in schedule 1 of the 1971 Act - a category of controlled drugs with allegedly no therapeutic value.
We face a chicken-and-egg situation: the Government will not move cannabis from schedule 1 to schedule 2 (a prescribable drug with therapeutic value) until it can be shown to have a medical use. And this cannot be demonstrated to the Government's satisfaction without large-scale trials.
After reviewing the evidence - much of it admittedly small-scale or anecdotal - the BMA recognises that cannabis may have therapeutic uses for people suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis. The Government should now facilitate the large-scale trials that are needed.
GORDON PRENTICE MP
House of Commons