28 Jun An Appeal To Andrew Lansley Part 3
Dear Mr Lansley,
I wrote to you on 13th April 2011 about the important issue of medicinal cannabis. The way my letter has been dealt with by your office is very disappointing. The first reply from Eldon Gallagher just ignored everything I said in my letter and rolled out a number of standardised and irrelevant points about Sativex. When I wrote back to ask for a proper response, Sarah Walker replied that it is a matter for the Home Office. The very first point I made in my original letter to you was:
“Please do not refer me to the Home Office. Its intransigent position on the subject amounts to a scandalous denial of science and cruel mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of British citizens. This is a health issue which requires your attention and care for those in pain and suffering.”
This is unacceptable Mr Lansley. However busy you are, you have a large staff paid for by taxpayers and such inadequate responses are both rude and irresponsible. You owe me as a citizen far better than this. Furthermore, as the only elected representative in Britain of those who need cannabis as medicine, I deserve a proper reply.
I am therefore enclosing a copy of my original letter and would ask you please to show me and those I represent the courtesy of properly addressing the points I make. You are in office to serve the people of Britain, not the other way around.
What I am really seeking is for you to meet with me and a delegation of medicinal cannabis users who will explain to you first hand the enormous relief that cannabis provides and how it allows them to lead full and productive lives. Please will your grasp this nettle and show some mercy and compassion for these people? Please will you arrange a meeting?
Thank you for your email of 11 May to Andrew Lansley about medical cannabis. I have been asked to reply.
I was sorry to read of your dissatisfaction with the reply provided by my colleague, Eldon Gallagher, to your previous letter (our ref: DE00000609584). Whilst the Department has noted your comments on the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes, I should clarify that this is a matter for the Home Office.
Whilst the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 does not assign lead responsibility to a specific Department, I can confirm that under the current administration the Home Office leads on tackling crime, including drug-related crime. The Home Office therefore has lead responsibility for drug misuse and trafficking matters in the UK under the UN Conventions and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is the competent advisory body of independent experts that advises Home Office ministers on drug-related issues. The Home Office has a duty to consider the ACMD’s advice, along with all other available evidence and wider issues relating to public health and protection. The Home Office then submits its decision to Parliament, which will endorse or reject any recommendations regarding altering a controlled drug’s legal status.
In respect of the Government’s position on cannabis, which is a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the ACMD renewed its previous advice on the legalisation of cannabis in its 2008 report ‘Cannabis Classification and Public Health’. It concluded that the drug was harmful to individuals and to society, and that there are no benefits connected with its legalisation. The Government’s view on cannabis, as provided by the Home Office, is that it does not recognise its medicinal value.
The Department of Health’s sole involvement with controlled drugs is through its drug treatment policy, its responsibility for public health campaigns such as FRANK, and its sponsorship of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.
With regard to the availability of Sativex in the UK, I should advise that it was rigorously evaluated by the MHRA and independent UK experts in a programme of non-clinical and clinical studies in order to establish its safety and efficacy. You may be aware that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is an independent body responsible for assessing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of drugs and treatments for the NHS, has not yet issued any guidance to the NHS on the use of Sativex. It is considering whether a review of its clinical guideline on multiple sclerosis is appropriate and aims to publish a decision on the need to review the guideline in shortly. NICE will decide whether to produce separate technology appraisal guidance on the use of Sativex when a decision has been made regarding the review of its clinical guideline. Further details will be made available at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG8.
I hope this reply clarifies the Department’s position on the matter.
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