Professor Mike Barnes, who led the team that secured Alfie Dingley the first ever long term licence to access medical cannabis slams the newly established panel.

Professor Mike Barnes, Sir Mike Penning the chair of the new APPG on medical cannabis and Peter Carroll, campaign director of End Our Pain have all expressed serious concerns about the new medical cannabis expert panel announced this week:

Chair of the APPG on Medical Cannabis Under Prescription Sir Mike Penning MP said, ‘The new expert panel to assess licence applications for those in need of urgent access to medical cannabis is well intentioned but badly flawed.  Many patients, some of whom have been travelling abroad for treatment, are saying that they find the forms and process daunting in the extreme.  And the implication that any prescribing clinician will be taking on personal liabilities will deter many doctors from agreeing to take part even if they believe it to be clinically justified.  This process cannot be a ‘compassion free’ zone.  I will be making urgent representations to have this process streamlined and for more support to be offered’.

Peter Carroll, campaign director of End Our Pain, the largest campaign fighting for access to medical cannabis under prescription with support from 75 MPs said, ‘We’ve already had calls from several families and patients who are finding even the form daunting, never mind the actual process.  These people need urgent help delivered with compassion and the minimum of bureaucracy’.

In response to the expert panel to review individual applications for the use of medical cannabis under prescription, leading Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation Mike Barnes, who assessed and supported the successful application for Alfie Dingley stated:

“Last week the announcement of this panel offered hope to thousands of patients and parents across the UK for whom medical cannabis might offer a real and lasting solution to their pain and suffering.  However, the terms announced by the panel yesterday are likely to place more barriers to families who need to access medical cannabis than to speed up the process.

“Amongst these is the requirement that patients must have exhausted all other products before receiving access to medical cannabis which could delay receiving the medication that works for many months. There is also a requirement that if the medicine has not been tried (by travelling abroad) the it must have been through a clinical trial – which being illegal, most cannabis medicines have not.

“The Government’s new approach is similar to that used in the Republic of Ireland which saw around 7 licences granted last year. This approach is simply not fit for purpose. It needs to be looked at again with urgency to ensure that all patients can receive the medication that they need.”