In a momentous turn of events, the United Kingdom’s home secretary announced that he will reschedule cannabis to be classified as Schedule 2 under the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products for medical purposes by “autumn.” It’s taken 90 years to reschedule cannabis on a federal scale in the country.
While the United States mulls over cannabis and it remains classified alongside heroin, the United Kingdom is moving forward in leaps and bounds on a federal scale.
The home secretary’s decision follows advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. “Following advice from two sets of independent advisors, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products—meaning they will be available on prescription,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement. “This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need.”
Making medicinal cannabis available on prescription will benefit the lives of ill patients currently suffering in silence. There is nothing harder than seeing your loved ones in pain – which is why I have taken this decision https://t.co/ZFmGgWdJgE
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 26, 2018
The turning point could have been initiated by small children. Alfie Dingley, six years old, found relief from intractable epilepsy from cannabis oil. Billy Caldwell, 12, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy that is also only treatable with cannabis oil. Unable to legally obtain medical cannabis products, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health granted him an emergency license. Billy’s mother Charlotte Caldwell was just as surprised as anyone else.
“That the Home Secretary has announced that medicinal cannabis can now be prescribed by GPs on Billy’s 13th birthday is amazing,” she said. “I wonder if he knew? Never has Billy received a better birthday present, and never from somebody so unexpected.”
The Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority will then clearly define what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product, according to The Independent.
Cannabis in all forms was made illegal in the United Kingdom on September 28 1928, as an addition to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. Despite being used by Queen Victoria to alleviate menstrual problems, law enforcement later on would target jazz musicians in London and the plant would remain illegal in all forms for decades. The long wait is now over, and the United Kingdom now recognizes cannabis’ healing effects.