Monday, 15 April 2013

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Welcome to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform website.

The APPG for Drug Policy Reform began in January 2011 with the position of the Group being:-
  • That the global war on drugs has failed
  • That we will work for drug policy reform
  • That the Group will draw upon available evidence and experience in order to inform our recommendations

Achievements to date:-

  • International Conference November 2011
  • Inquiry Report: Towards a Safer Drug Policy
  • European Initiative for global debate and reform of drug policy event January 2014

Latest

Regulating Cannabis for Medical Use in the UK

A  Report by Britain’s top expert on medicinal cannabis, is issued by the APPG 16th June 2015 as a contribution to the debate on drug policy. The Report sets out The Medical and Financial Case for Reform

Professor Val Curran and co-author with Frank Warburton, argue that patients are suffering unnecessarily and others in great pain are travelling abroad to find the cannabis they need to ease their symptoms.  All this could change by moving cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, thus recognising the medicinal value of the drug.  Such a change would also free up research and lead to new medicines for chronic pain, and disease.

Patients with long term conditions like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, chronic neuropathic pain, chronic pain following shingles, the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer, and other severe health problems are currently being denied effective treatment in the UK.  There are also emerging indications of the use of CBD (a key ingredient of cannabis) to alleviate mental health conditions including social anxiety disorder, the symptoms of schizophrenia and PTSD.

The medical uses of cannabis are not recognised in the UK, as symbolised by the inclusion of cannabis in Schedule 1.   And yet products with the same pharmaceutical ingredients as cannabis are placed in Schedule 2.  These include Dronabinol and Sativex.   Dronabinol has never been licensed and Sativex has only been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency as an extra treatment for patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

Cost

Sativex the only cannabis derivative available legally in the UK, is very expensive (£7,500 per year).   Whereas Bediol, a good cannabis medicine, (which is not legally available in the UK) would cost £1,062.15 per year.   The result is that few MS patients have access to a cannabis based medicine and suffer unnecessarily.  Other patients with chronic diseases which could be helped have no access to cannabis based medicines at all.

Other Countries which regulate the medical use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives.

Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and over 20 States in the US regulate herbal cannabis for medical use.   A number of EU Countries including Germany and Switzerland enable patients to import cannabis for medical use from the Netherlands.

There is no evidence that re-scheduling cannabis would lead to the diversion of supplies into the illicit recreational market


Heroin is already in schedule 2.   Its medicinal value is recognised in the UK.   There is no evidence of significant diversion of heroin for medical supplies into the illicit recreational market.   Cannabis as a schedule 2 substance would continue to be subject to strict controls via medical regulation.  Appropriate use would therefore be assured.

Read the Report