Thank you for contacting me about the medicinal use of cannabis. I sympathise profoundly with the situation faced by Alfie Dingley and his family, and others who are living with a physical condition and are in search of the most effective pain relief.
Alfie's life is blighted by epileptic fits and it is understandable that his family want him to have whatever medication they feel will help him. I believe Ministers must ensure that all evidence relating to Alfie's case has been examined and that all avenues of treatment are being considered to ensure that Alfie has the best possible quality of life.
This case is the latest in a long line of examples that have led to more calls for legislation to permit the medical use of cannabis, and while I do not agree with legalising cannabis for general use, I believe the Government should look carefully at the case for the use of cannabis or cannabis products as a medicine.
Where there is evidence, the Government should consider the case for trials and the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 4. This would enable its availability for use in healthcare in the UK.
As you may be aware, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) administers the process by which medicines, including those containing controlled drugs such as cannabis, can be developed and subsequently prescribed and supplied to patients. In October 2016, the MHRA published its opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medicinal purposes "are a medicine" and offered regulatory guidance to any company that may wish to apply for a licence.
The Government has said it is exploring every option within the current regulatory framework, including options of issuing a license to the family of Alfie Dingley. I assure you I will follow the Government's progress closely and bear in mind the points you have raised.