The rescheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products from schedule 1 to schedule 2 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 was laid before parliament yesterday (October 11).
From November 1, “specialist doctors” such as neurologists or paediatricians on the General Medical Council’s specialist register, will legally be able to issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines, home secretary Sajid Javid said.
GPs will not be able to prescribe these products, the Home Office stressed.
“The new law will not limit the types of conditions that can be considered for treatment and doctors will no longer need to seek approval from an expert panel in order for patients to access medicines.”
However, the products must only be prescribed “when the patient has an unmet special clinical need that cannot be met by licensed products”, it added.
Mr Javid made the move following an urgent review into the rescheduling of cannabis for medicinal use in June. The rescheduling “does not pave the way towards legalising cannabis for recreational use”, the Home Office stressed yesterday.
RPS: “Genuinely exciting”
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Ash Soni said the rescheduling is “genuinely exciting” and “will be welcomed by many patients with a range of serious health conditions”.
Over 89% of 1,690 pharmacist respondents to the RPS’s survey in July agreed with the move, the society said.
“Pharmacists will be on the frontline of supplying these cannabis-based medicinal products and can give advice to patients on how to take them as part of their treatment plan,” Mr Soni added.
“Robust governance needs to be in place around prescribing and dispensing and pharmacists have a key role to play in ensuring this is in place across health systems.”
The government has commissioned the National Institute for health and Care Excellence to develop more detailed guidelines for clinicians.