Medical cannabis will be available on prescription in the UK within a month, according to The Telegraph.
The Home Office is expected to announce the “rescheduling” of cannabis-derived medicines in Parliament within a fortnight, lifting restrictions which mean that until now it has only been allowed in the most exceptional circumstances within a matter of weeks.
Under the new rules, those suffering chronic pain, severe epilepsy or nausea as a result of chemotherapy could be prescribed the drug by specialist doctors.
There are an estimated 28 million people living with chronic pain in the UK, including those suffering from conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS).
The MS Society said that 10,000 people suffering from that condition alone could benefit from the treatment.
Back in June 2018, the organisation sent Home Secretary Sajid Javid an open letter, asking that he considers MS patients in his review into the use of medical cannabis.
“Evidence shows that cannabis for medicinal use could help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to manage pain and spasticity, when other treatments have not worked for them,” the letter read.
The National Insitute of Health and Care Excellence is due to review routine funding of treatment on the NHS but will not reveal its findings until next year.
Until then, decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Former science minister George Freeman expressed a desire to see Britain “lead the world in the enlightened regulation of modern medicine.”
He also suggested the changes could bring about a “huge business opportunity” for the UK, which already produces 60 per cent of the world’s cannabis for pharmaceutical research.
The move will see cannabis-derived medicinal products move out of Schedule 1, the strictest category for drugs with potential professional uses which require a Home Office licence, into Schedule 2.
These changes come about following a long battle by campaigners.
Cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, who have severe epilepsy, along with lobbying, prompted change.
Since the summer, families with the support of specialist clinicians have been able to apply for permission to use cannabis oil from a panel of medical experts.
The decision by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to allow legal prescription of medical cannabis by specialists follows a review by England’s chief medical officer, earlier this year.
After the changing of schedules this autumn, patients will no longer have to try many other opiate-based epileptic drugs before being allowed to use cannabis oil.