04 Aug Freedom of Information Request – re; Mr Cameron’s Comments on Medicinal Cannabis

View Mr Cameron’s comments on Youtube/Al-Jazeera (25/02/11):

Cameron on Cannabis

(Jason Reed):

Dear Home Office/FOI,

I’d like to request the following information:

On the 25th February 2011, the Prime Minister was interviewed live on Youtube by Al-Jazeera. In his comments for the medicinal use of cannabis, Mr Cameron said:

“That is a matter for the science and the medical authorities to determine, and they are free to make independent determinations on that…”

I would like to request information on what the Government have done and are doing to investigate this area; or what they are planning to do.

Thank you for your time and allowing me to mail, with my best, Jason Reed.In Reply:

Dear Mr Reed,
Thank you for your email of 4 July about the Government’s position on medicinal cannabis. Your email has been passed to the Drugs and Alcohol Unit and I have been asked respond.You ask for information regarding the steps taken by the Government to investigate the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
I should inform you that the Government refers to the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the independent statutory body comprised of experts who keep drugs under review and provide advice to the Government on drug-related issues, based on all available evidence. The ACMD last reviewed cannabis in the 2008 report ‘Cannabis: classification and public health’ published at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/acmd/. The report does not highlight any medicinal benefits of cannabis in its raw form. The Government’s current position is that cannabis in its raw form is harmful and is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (2001 Regulations) as it has no recognised medicinal purposes in the UK.The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has the responsibility to ensure that any medicinal product which is to be available in the UK works and is acceptably safe for use as a medicine. It will only grant a marketing authorisation for a product once it is satisfied that it is safe, effective and of an acceptable quality for use in the UK. In the case of a cannabis-based medicinal product – such as ‘Sativex’ – it is the responsibility of the Home Office to then consider its appropriate scheduling under the 2001 Regulations, in consultation with the ACMD.As you are aware, the ACMD has provided advice on the scheduling of ‘Sativex’ under the 2001 Regulations. The report can be found on the ACMD’s website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/acmd/. In its findings, the ACMD concludes that ‘Sativex’ has a low abuse potential and low risk of diversion and that based, on the broader basis of its assessment, ‘Sativex’ should be scheduled as a Schedule 4, Part 1 substance under the 2001 Regulations. The Government is currently considering the ACMD’s advice and it will make its position clear in due course.I can reassure you that the ACMD will continue to keep cannabis under review along with all other controlled drugs, in line with its statutory duty under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Yours sincerely,Joseph PonanDrugs and Alcohol Unit