[Crispin Blunt: ... What we have failed to do on the back of the regulations passed in November 2018 is get an evidence-based approach to medicine from cannabis, and educate the health service, prescribing doctors and the rest about the potential benefits and how we should have developed a position from the first go at the regulatory change in 2018.]
Dr Julian Lewis: My hon. Friend is making a fascinating case, because I, like many other Members of the House, I am sure, thought that this problem had largely been solved. Why does he think it is that the Government or the Department find it is so difficult to grip this? I recall having back surgery 35 years ago and being very grateful for some pain relief. I asked whether I could have some more, but I was told, “No, you can’t, because it is morphia. It is related to heroin and you might get addicted.” If it was possible properly to prescribe something related to heroin for a proper medical condition 35 years ago, why can something similar by way of the arrangements needed not be sorted out for this particular problem?
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Dr Lewis: I have been looking at the Hansard of yesterday’s debate – there is an opportunity for the Minister to refer to it when she makes her remarks – and I see that one of the main points she made yesterday was the fact that there is insufficient evidence on the safety aspects and the possible harm effects. Given that families are paying all this money and finding other ways of getting the cannabis-based products, would it be a way forward if families were asked to sign a waiver if it were prescribed, so that the people doing the prescribing would be protected against any subsequent action if in fact something went wrong? It might be for the family to take that decision on the balance of benefit and harm.
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[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Maria Caulfield): ... The Government are committed to trying to resolve the blockage to licensing, which is the main factor hindering the prescription of these drugs. The Health and Social Care Secretary changed the law when he was Home Secretary, but that was not the end of the issue, and that is why we are taking these next steps. It is important not to dismiss the importance of licensed medication. We know from history that when medication that may have a good clinical effect is not tested thoroughly, there can be grave consequences, just as with thalidomide. The safety of a medicine is as important as its efficacy. I am not casting aspersions on cannabis, but the regulator has responsibility for all medicines, and it takes that issue very seriously.]
Dr Lewis: That argument would surely carry more weight if the people doing the testing outlined some sort of timeline and plan for concluding a testing programme, rather than apparently letting things drift on aimlessly for years on end.