13 Feb The Fight For Medicinal Cannabis Reaches Parliament
George Hutchings, Dean Price, Paul Lewington, Keith Vaz MP, Andew Turner MP, Peter Reynolds
Today, at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament, Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), agreed that an inquiry will be held into medicinal cannabis.
With the assistance of Andrew Turner, MP for the Isle of Wight, I was honoured to lead a delegation of three medicinal users to explain to Mr Vaz how cannabis helps with their medical conditions. Thank you to George Hutchings, Paul Lewington and Dean Price who represented our case with bravery and commitment.
We explained the process that CLEAR members have followed to obtain a prescription from their UK doctor and then travel to Holland to have their medicine dispensed at a Dutch pharmacy. We told Mr Vaz that, apart from GW Pharma’s liquid cannabis spray, Sativex, the Dutch company Bedrocan produces the only form of medicinal cannabis which is prescribable by doctors.
Dr Julian Huppert MP, a member of the HASC, has also been extremely helpful. A few weeks ago, he advised me to ensure that we focus on a practical and achievable goal. Accordingly, I argued that if a doctor has prescribed Bedrocan then the Home Office should issue a licence enabling it to be imported, otherwise, politicians and civil servants are overriding a doctor’s expertise. Mr Vaz strongly agreed with this point.
We related how five people have already successfully imported their medicine to the UK, openly declaring it at customs. George explained how, in November 2013, his trip had ended in the seizure of his medicine at Southampton airport. He is now pursuing an appeal to the Border Force and solicitors have taken steps which may lead to a judicial review of the Home Secretary’s refusal to issue an import licence.
Mr Vaz was impressed to see copies of UK doctors’ prescriptions for Bedrocan. He said he thought the committee would be convinced by such evidence and he asked me to write to him and Julian Huppert formally outlining our case. The committee will then consider this along with any other evidence it may choose to call and produce a report with recommendations.
This inquiry is the achievement of three long years of work by CLEAR with the support of our members. We have high hopes that it may lead to long overdue reform and a more compassionate policy on medicinal cannabis.