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UK Issues Groundbreaking Report on Cannabinoid

Bill Weinberg

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The British government’s Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Oct. 11 issued a finding that cannabidiol (CBD) has a “restoring, correcting or modifying” effect on “physiological functions.” The Independent calls the move “a potential milestone in the campaign to legalise cannabis and bring about evidence-based laws regarding drugs.”

The review of CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid increasingly studied for its therapeutic value, was undertaken following discussions with MediPen, a London-based company that seeks to market a CBD vaporizer.

An MHRA spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol are a medicine. Products will have to meet safety, quality and effectiveness standards to protect public health. If you use CBD and if you have any questions, speak to your GP or other healthcare professional.” The agency has told companies they have 28 days to apply for a license to legally market CBD products.

The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act created the UK’s Class A, B, and C classification system, with cannabis in Class B along with amphetamine and barbituates—illegal, although with lighter penalties than Class A drugs like cocaine and heroin. (Class C drugs such as steroids and khat have lighter penalties still.) A petition launched by James Richard Owen to “make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal” has received more than 227,000 signatures. By British law, any petition that wins more than 100,000 signatures must be reviewed by Parliament. After some hesitation, the House of Commons did hold one day of debate on the petition—almost exactly a year ago, on Oct. 12, 2015. Activists hope the MHRA finding will prompt parliamentarians to re-open the issue.

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