THE MP for Newport West, Paul Flynn, has said the UK government’s decision to legalise cannabis-derived medicines is “progress” but should have come sooner.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Thursday (July 26) that specialist doctors would be able to prescribe the products to patients with exceptional medical needs by autumn this year.

Mr Flynn has long campaigned for cannabis – a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 – to be legalised for medical use.

Reacting to the home secretary’s decision, Mr Flynn said: “For the first time in 45 years a British government has admitted that cannabis is a medicine.

“This is progress, even though the government were shamed into acting by the obscenity of films of children having their seizure-controlling medicine confiscated.”

Mr Flynn is referring to the case of Billy Caldwell, a 13-year-old boy with severe epilepsy whose cannabis oil was confiscated by customs officials at Heathrow airport when his mother attempted to bring it into the country from Canada.

Billy’s condition had shown marked improvement during periods of treatment with the oil.



Mr Flynn now hopes the UK will explore cannabis-derived medicines as a potential treatment for other conditions, in line with other countries around the world.

“There is a bigger problem in the denial of cannabis medicine to many thousands who suffer from multiple sclerosis and epilepsy”, he said.

“Dozens of other countries have done the research and doctors should be allowed to prescribe [cannabis-derived medicines] for a whole range of other illnesses.”

While many people celebrate the news, including families who will now be able to legally access cannabis oil treatment, a leading children’s doctor has reminded people of the potential dangers of using such medicines without correct medical supervision.

Dr Mike Linney, registrar and chair of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health ethics committee, said: “Cannabis-derived medicinal products have been shown to improve the quality of life for some children suffering with conditions such as severe epilepsy.

“This decision will come as a relief for these families, as it grants hope for other potential life enhancing treatment options.

“In addition, this ruling will potentially allow further much needed research into the benefits and side effects of cannabis-derived medicinal products.

“Now that a decision has been made, we look forward to hearing more from the Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency, who will now develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product.


“However, in the meantime, I must stress the importance of parents not giving children unlicensed cannabinoid oil products.

“There is currently no clear evidence to suggest that they are safe or effective in treating medical conditions, and there is a serious risk that they will interfere with prescribed medications that the child is taking.