Little evidence medical cannabis is safe, experts warn

The President of the British Paediatric Neurology Association has warned MPs that there is little evidence to show medicinal cannabis products are effective or safe.

Giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee, Professor Finbar O’Callaghan said that adequate trials have yet to be carried out on cannabis products.

The professor criticised the ‘politicising’ of the licensing process, saying it is “not appropriate for politicians or the media to determine prescribing practice”.


The committee also heard from Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care, who argued that cannabis must not be treated differently to other drugs.

Professor Whitty warned that rushing the development of medicines risked creating a “disaster” like the thalidomide scandal, and called for a responsible approach – based on evidence – to medical cannabis.

He added that it was “very dangerous” to make exceptions for cannabis.

‘Last resort’

Earlier this month the Chief Medical Officer for England told MPs that medical cannabis should only be prescribed as a “last resort”.

Dame Sally Davies said that talk of ‘medical cannabis’ has “opened a Pandora’s box” with patients now believing cannabis can cure multiple illnesses.

She says that more work is needed to ensure the safety of drugs derived from the plant.

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