THE body of evidence around the medicinal benefits of cannabis has been growing for some time. A recent review by British academics of 20,000 global scientific reports concluded cannabis should be legal for medicinal use.

In 2016 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform said there is clear evidence it could have a therapeutic use for conditions including chronic pain, nausea and anxiety, while the government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced that in its opinion, CBD, a chemical extract derived from the cannabis plant, is in fact a medicine. At least ten European countries, a large number of US states and Canada already license cannabis for medicinal use.

Through all this, the Home Office resolutely stuck to the line that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health, failing to recognise the completely separate debates about legalisation for recreational and medicinal uses.

In the end, it took two very poorly little boys to shift the Government’s position – six-year-old Alfie Dingley and 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who desperately needed the drug to treat the symptoms of severe epilepsy.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s interventions to permit both boys to access cannabis oil meant realistically he had no option but to announce a review of the UK’s position on medicinal cannabis products. The evidence is already out there, so it is to be hoped there will be a swift report to end the uncertainty for patients like Alfie and Billy, and their families.