15 Apr UK Department of Health Has Neither Requested Nor Received Any Advice On Medicinal Cannabis.

“I know nothing. I ask nothing. I understand nothing.”

This is the astonishing reality of the way the UK government is responding to the national outcry for access to cannabis as medicine. They are doing absolutely nothing.

Across the world a revolution is taking place as more and more jurisdictions are introducing legal access to medical cannabis. Medical professionals and patients alike are realising the huge benefits to be gained from re-opening access to this most valuable of medicines. Scientific research is proving beyond doubt that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine for a wide range of conditions. Many pharmaceutical companies are investigating different cannabinoids, extracts and therapies. Most of all, citizens are demanding access to a medicine that has been denied to them for no good reason and that can improve, even save the lives of people of all ages, from the baby with severe epilepsy to the grandparent suffering the effects of aging, even dementia. Cannabis can help improve and maintain good health in all of us.

Yet the UK government is not considering the evidence. Despite even a year long Parliamentary inquiry which recommended permitting access, the Department of Health has not considered nor even asked for any expert advice. My Freedom of Information request has established this beyond doubt. See here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/395319/response/965315/attach/html/2/1078680%20Reynolds.pdf.html

I have been pressing my MP, Sir Oliver Letwin, on this issue ever since I became his constituent two years ago. Early on he was an extremely powerful cabinet minster, generally recognised as number three in the government after David Cameron and George Osborne but he was swiftly sacked when Theresa May became prime minister.  He has already announced he will not stand for re-election to the next Parliament.

Meeting with Sir Oliver Letwin MP

To be fair, Oliver has always listened to me politely and attentively.  We have met on about half a dozen occasions and we frequently exchange emails.  He has been more responsive to me than I had hoped and to begin with he told me he was investigating what was happening in government about the subject.  His answer was that the evidence has been considered, expert advisors have been consulted and ministers have concluded that there is not a good case for reform.

I have pressed him again and again, shown him reams of evidence, shared stories with him from across the world, both of scientific research and patient testimonies.  While always courteous towards me he has remained resolutely opposed.  I could have given up long ago.  Indeed, when I asked him why can’t we simply leave it to the professional judgement of doctors whether to prescribe it or not, he gave me an answer straight out of a ‘Yes Minster’ script.  He said: “But then they would prescribe it.”

At the beginning of this year I asked him once again for assistance in putting me before a minister to advance my case.  He replied:

“We have discussed this issue before, but I am happy to set out the reason why I will not support your proposals. The Department of Health have, as you know, considered this issue, have taken advice on it from their professional public health advisors, and have concluded that the gains in healthcare arising from the legalisation of medicinal cannabis (as opposed to cannabinoids) would not be sufficiently great to outweigh the risk of abuse.”

It seems that, at best, Sir Oliver is mistaken.  I have written to him again asking for comments on the FOI response.

Whatever reply I now receive, I urge everyone to get on to their MP about this.  It is a scandal.  There can be no doubt that it is irresponsible and negligent that the Department of Health is so clearly failing in its duty to the country.  That’s not to say how very cruel and inhumane this failure is or how much money legal medical cannabis could save the NHS.  Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, must be called to account for this.

  • discerner

    I can only assume the usual ‘conspiracy’ theories apply : they are in the pockets of the competition, moral as opposed to factual judgements, political fear of being seen to be soft on drugs. Or their usual mantra ” that all drugs destroy lives and communities and are very dangerous”, except alcohol of course. There can be no justification for the governments intractable stance on medical cannabis in the 21st century with all the long term evidence available. They portray to me an uncaring, compassionless, and callous attitude to an effective medication that is and has always been so successful in treating so many ailments – they should hang their heads in shame.

  • MikeParent

    Then he’s not doing his job properly!

  • Lariz

    Quite amusing that the very reasons they say it shouldn’t be decriminalized/regulated are the very reasons it should.

    They say it could be abused – Regulate it and you have control, leave it in the hands of the black market and you don’t; Besides, look at tramadol, codeine, morphine etc.. Hardly like they aren’t being abused to a much more devastating level.

    They say it ruins families – Primarily because users are treated as addicts and not patients (not saying it’s addictive, I mean using it to treat a patients illness/disability) because they’re forced to deal with people who care only for financial gains.. And it isn’t like locking people up for possession/cultivation of a medicine less harmful than opiates isn’t ruining families.

    They say it contributes to gang violence – Take the market away from the gangs and you’ve removed the violence.

    Perhaps you should attempt to set up a debate with some of these hypocritical MPs you’re in communication with, or some form of broadcast/interview considering the very reasons they state publicly against decriminalization/regulation are byproducts of prohibition and have no relation to cannabis itself; It’s a debate you simply can’t lose considering every reason they state they created and are enabling, which could very well open more people’s eyes to the idiocy of our government when it comes to drug laws and how lethal they are.

  • Gerald Evans
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