Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions officials of his Department has had with officials of the Home Office to ensure there are no undue delays in granting import licences for cannabis-based products for medicinal use; and if he will make a statement.
We are aware that some wholesalers and pharmacies have reported challenges in importing a range of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use. It is clear that for some products, long lead times and delays in receiving export licences from the authorities in the country of manufacture, have led to delays in the supply against prescriptions and pose a potential risk to patients receiving their medicines on time.
The Department, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Home Office, NHS England and NHS Improvement are in the process of agreeing what action can be taken to help alleviate these delays, including exploring mechanisms to allow licensed wholesalers to hold a small reserve stock linked to an evidenced demand by specialist prescribers; and ensuring that the United Kingdom meets its obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Any changes will be reflected in the guidance published by the MHRA.
In the meantime, the Home Office and the MHRA are treating all import requests for cannabis-based products for medicinal use as emergency supplies and on receipt of the correct documentation, applicants can expect a decision within a few working days.
No meetings have taken place with representatives of patient groups concerning the reported delays to imports of cannabis-base products for medicinal use. Officials did meet with patient groups in the development of this policy when the previous Government rescheduled cannabis-based products for medicinal use under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.