The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the use of CBD-based Epidyolex (European marketed version of Epidiolex) as the first cannabis medication in the U.K. to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis (MS).
According to Sky News, many advocates and patients are happy with this decision, but still feel that more medical cannabis treatments should be made available to people who suffer from a wider variety of medical conditions. Nice claims that more research is needed before it will consider cannabis products that contain THC to successful help patients treat conditions like Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome.
Millie Hinton, a spokesperson from a campaign called End Our Pain, explained that allowing only these limited medications into England and Wales is missed opportunity. “It is particularly devastating that there is no positive recommendation that the NHS should allow prescribing of whole plant medical cannabis containing both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC in appropriate cases of intractable childhood epilepsy,” she said. “This restrictive guidance is condemning many patients to having to pay for life-transforming medicine privately, to go without or to consider accessing illegal and unregulated sources.”
Additionally, although U.K. laws changed last year allowing medical cannabis to be prescribed, sources say most doctors are not prepared to do so, due to the major stigma against cannabis.
Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, was happy that MS medication was approved, claiming it was “brilliant [that] NICE has finally listened” after Sativex was recommended to treat MS muscle spasms. Still, like most advocates, she felt more could have been done. “These guidelines are an important first step, but don’t go far enough,” Edwards added. “No cannabis-based treatments have been recommended to treat pain, a common symptom of MS.”
Cannabis advocates in England are becoming aggravated with the lack of legal cannabis in the country. Masked activists even took to giving out cannabis this past summer, and the Church of England has announced legalization support. Hopefully, 2020 will see even more medical acceptance in England and Wales.