Cannabis could be legalised for medicinal purposes, Sajid Javid has announced.
The home secretary told MPs on Tuesday morning that if a government review concluded the drug had “significant medical benefits” the law would be changed.
Theresa May has been under pressure to review drugs regulations as children have been denied access to products derived from cannabis which could alleviate life-threatening epileptic seizures.
Javid intervened at the weekend to provide a 20-day licence to allow 12-year-old Billy Caldwell to be treated with cannabis oil.
Today he announced a second child, Alfie Dingley, would be granted a licence to receive cannabis-based drugs.
Charlotte Caldwell, Billy’s mother, said the change in policy showed “the power of mummies of sick children has bust the political process wide open”.
″[We are] on the verge of changing thousands of lives by bringing our medicinal cannabis laws in line with many other countries,” she added.
“We are on the threshold of the next chapter of the history book.”
Hannah Deacon, the mother of Alfie Dingley, was told during a live TV interview with ITV News that her son he had been given the medicine.
“That’s amazing news. Thank you very much for letting me know. Thank you,” she said.
Speaking in the Commons, Javid said the possible change was “in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use”.
“Cannabis is a drug which can harm people’s mental and physical health,” he said.
William Hague, the former Tory leader, this morning called for cannabis to be decriminalised as the war on drugs had been “irreversibly lost”.
But Downing Street rejected the claim. “Drug misuse is lower than 10 years ago,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.
“The law is very clear. It’s for the police to decide how they take operational decisions on the ground.”
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Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, has said Labour would allow the legal prescription of cannabis for medical purposes.
“Children have been put at risk and experienced extraordinary suffering because this Government drags its heels and refuses to grant cannabis oil licences,” she said.
The Lib Dems have gone further and called for the drug to be legalised for both medicinal and recreational use.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, today said the government should be careful not to “inadvertently introduce new risks for people” when it comes to medical cannabis.
“In those countries where marijuana has been decriminalised, often young people, teenagers, come to think of smoking marijuana as safe. “Let’s be clear: actually it isn’t,” he said.