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Access to medicinal cannabis: meeting patient needs.


All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform

Type: Article
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

Many jurisdictions across the world have either already introduced systems that allow lawful access to medicinal cannabis or are in the process of so doing. At least 11 European countries already ensure access to it including: Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal and Switzerland. Twenty-four States in the USA also ensure access, with more states due to vote on the matter. Canada, Israel, Jamaica and many Latin American countries, including Uruguay, Chile and Colombia join the countries that allow access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, the UK lags behind. Indeed, in the UK cannabis and its derivatives are listed under Schedule 1, the Schedule for dangerous drugs with no medicinal value. At the same time, the UK Government has approved nabiximols (trade name Sativex) and nabilone (trade name Cesamet), which seems irrational and contrary to the Governmentâ?Ts scheduling decision. This issue matters to a substantial number of patients (and their families) across the UK. One estimate of current users of medicinal cannabis in the UK puts the figure at 30,000 daily. However, the campaign group End Our Pain ( puts the estimate at approaching 1,000,000 in total. This is based on the fact that Home Office figures put the number of UK cannabis takers (both recreational and medicinal) at 3,000,000, and figures from the USA suggest that approaching 1 in 3 will be for primarily medical reasons. If this figure seems high, it is interesting to note that Germany, which is currently introducing legislation to allow legal access to medicinal cannabis estimates that nearly 800,000 of its citizens may be eligible under their scheme. Against this background, the APPG convened the most in-depth parliamentary inquiry into this issue ever undertaken. Alongside their inquiry, the APPG commissioned the most extensive review of evidence in the literature in modern times.



Rights: Public
Suggested citation:

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform. (2016) Access to medicinal cannabis: meeting patient needs. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st September 2019].


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