The UK Government is set to legalise cannabis-derived medicinal products over the coming months, following Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to reschedule the medicines based on a two-part review commissioned last month.

The move to put the products under Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 will allow specialist clinicians to prescribe them to patients having an exceptional clinical need.

However, not all cannabis products will be legally available, especially not for recreational purposes.

The Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency will develop a clear definition of a cannabis-derived medicinal product.

Cannabis-derived products meeting this definition will be rescheduled and can be prescribed, while other forms will be under stringent regulations and not available on prescription.

The government will continue to penalise any unauthorised supply and possession of cannabis.

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Meanwhile, clinicians can apply to an independent expert panel on behalf of patients who want access to the cannabis-derived medicinal products. The government has decided to waive licence fees for such applications.

“Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products.”

Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory. That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advice on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.

“Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.”

During the first phase of the review, Chief Medical Advisor Dame Sally Davies confirmed the availability of evidence that medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits.

The second part of the review involved determination of the appropriate schedule for these products by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which considered harms and public health needs.

DHSC and the Home Office will form additional frameworks and clinical guidelines to ensure safe prescription and prevent illicit trading.