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Cannabis Oil Prescription: Epilepsy

Volume 639: debated on Monday 16 April 2018

7. What progress has been made on bringing forward legislative proposals to license cannabis oil for prescription for epilepsy. (904745)

The World Health Organisation has committed to reviewing the scheduling of cannabis under the 1961 United Nations convention. It is due to consider the therapeutic use, dependence on and potential to abuse constituent parts of cannabis. The Government will await the outcome of that report before considering next steps.

I thank the Minister for his response. With special reference to Dravet syndrome, the seizures associated with which are aided incredibly by cannabis oil in a larger dose, can he confirm whether his Department will legislate for specific uses, to allow doctors to prescribe it to the likes of little Sophia Gibson in my constituency, whose parents Darren and Danielle are at this moment in Holland, where Sophia is receiving medical treatment?

The hon. Gentleman has raised his constituent’s case with me in writing, and we have a huge amount of sympathy for Sophia Gibson and her family. He will know that we need to ensure that doctors and patients are assured of the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines before they come to market, but I have written to the hon. Gentleman to arrange a meeting to discuss his constituent’s case.

The Minister, who met Alfie Dingley and his family, will know the pain and anxiety caused by the cumbersome licensing process. Does he accept that a wider range of cases than this very rare form of epilepsy involve the use of cannabis oil in palliative care and pain relief, and that they also need to be investigated?

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman completely; it is hard not to feel a huge amount of sympathy for Hannah Deacon and Drew Dingley, not least having met them with Alfie. We have said that we want to explore every option within the existing law. The right hon. Gentleman talks about a cumbersome licensing process. In fact, we are waiting for someone to make an application. We cannot process a licence application until we receive one, and we are waiting for that.