Medical consultants are expressing concern at a Home Office and NHS proposal to allow high-concentrate cannabis oils to be prescribed for pain relief.
From Thursday, expert doctors will be given the option to legally issue prescriptions for unlicensed cannabis-based medicines when they agree their patients can benefit from the treatment, even if they include the psychoactive components of the drug.
While currently accessible medical cannabis has undergone clinical trials to ensure effectiveness and safety, the unlicensed products will not have undergone this rigorous testing.
Nearly 170 medics wrote to The Times cautioning the ‘rushed’ proposal.
“We are concerned that in the interests of political expediency, this mandate to allow prescribing of cannabis for pain relief is premature”, they said.
…don’t ask us to justify it on medical grounds if the evidence is not there
Dr Rajesh Munglani, a Consultant in Pain Medicine at St Thomas Hospital London, acknowledged that while there is some evidence that cannabis can reduce some types of pain, the evidence is too limited to prescribe it freely to millions.
He told The Times that politicians needed to be honest about wanting to legalise such a dangerous drug, but warned, “don’t ask us to justify it on medical grounds if the evidence is not there”.
The Government has responded saying: “We understand the concerns of doctors who, with patients and families, may be considering the use of medicines which have not demonstrated the standards for safety and efficacy we rightly expect in the UK”.
Changes to the law in the UK have been brought about following claims that two boys suffering with epilepsy have benefitted from the use of high-concentrate cannabis oil.
Pro-legalisation campaigners have accused doctors of having a ‘cultural objection’ to the drug and said patients need “the right to have it as an option”.