The UK Department of Health and Social Care has announced that medical cannabis trials will begin “as soon as possible,” according to The Independent.
The government’s National Institute for Health Research will oversee the study, which will evaluate the effects of cannabis on patients with epilepsy, the news outlet reported.
Specialist doctors in the UK have been able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products since 2018, but only as a last resort, according to The Independent.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy, as well as those suffering from epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, have argued that medical cannabis should be more easily accessible, the news outlet reported, while the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a commissioning body of the NHS, says there is “insufficient evidence” to recommend the full use of cannabis, although it may be considered by doctors if it is “clinically appropriate in an individual case.”
In an effort to gather the evidence required to prescribe cannabis on a wider scale, UK’s government has established two large-scale, randomized controlled trials, although the details are still being finalized, The Independent reported.
"To develop evidence on medical cannabis, the Department, via the National Institute for Health Research, will be supporting two randomized controlled trials into epilepsy in adults and children,” Health Minister Maria Caufield told the news outlet. "The trials will commence as soon as possible, and results will be published once the trials have completed and the findings have been peer reviewed."