UK Medicinal Cannabis

Following a short yet dramatically successful public campaign in the summer of 2018, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced in Parliament that the UK would be making medicinal cannabis available. This is a significant advance given the position adopted by successive British governments over many decades.

The Home Secretary sought the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) regarding the therapeutic use and scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products. They both endorsed the rescheduling of cannabis for medical purposes and in response the government quickly announced that certain cannabis-derived medicines will be rescheduled to permit specialist clinicians to prescribe them.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have been mandated to develop a “clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product” so they can be rescheduled and prescribed. Only products meeting this definition will be rescheduled. Other forms of cannabis will be kept under strict controls and will not be available on prescription.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently consulting on the development of clinical guidelines which they propose to publish in October 2019. The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis is a confirmed registered stakeholder. Rescheduling requires legislation and further details are awaited on how patients will gain access, and how such products will be supplied and distributed within the NHS.

You can read the “Response to ACMD: cannabis-derived medicinal products” from the Home Secretary.

Rescheduling is long overdue and will enable much-needed research, but much more needs to be accomplished before all those who could benefit from medicinal cannabis will have access to it. Integrating medicinal cannabis into the unique culture and institutional frameworks of the UK public healthcare system represents a complex challenge. Some countries have moved to change their laws, like Ireland and Australia, who struggled to develop a sustainable market that can meet patient demand. Other mature markets, like Canada, took years to develop the right regime and went through several distinct models. We must learn from this experience so we can successfully make the argument for the right kind of model fit for patients in the UK.

About Us

We have come together as a group of philanthropists, scientists, campaigners, public policy experts and educators to advance responsible, ethical and evidence based access to medicinal cannabis. Our founding team includes the core group, led by Steve Moore, who successfully directed the campaign on behalf of Charlotte and Billy Caldwell this summer. Charlotte is our public ambassador.

Founded in 2018, the CMC is a non-profit organisation working to shape the UK’s new medicinal cannabis regime in the interests of patients. Our ardent focus is on promoting public understanding, political engagement, policy advocacy and clinical education.

We will actively engage with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Home Office, NICE and all relevant public authorities on behalf of the potentially millions of people in the UK who will benefit from a successful implementation of policy relating to medicinal cannabis.

Twitter @C4MC_UK

Facebook The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis UK

Advocacy Partners 

We will support parental and patient advocacy to ensure that emerging policy reflects real needs. It’s vital that the voice and views of those who will benefit most from upcoming reforms is at the forefront of the minds of those who will shape future plans.

Both of these campaigns have our full support

United Patients Alliance

Families 4 Access


Our Vision for Medicinal Cannabis in the UK

The first report from the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) will set out a credible and compelling model for the UK’s first medicinal cannabis regime. This report will make recommendations that are both evidence-based and politically deliverable, so we can seek to influence how the new system is designed and implemented over the course of 2018-19.

As the UK begins on this journey, it is important that the right decisions are taken now in order to shape the market in a way that guarantees a sustainable model that meets the needs of patients. A system that is too restrictive, or even one that is too lax, will undermine the government’s policy aims, erode public support, and disadvantage patients who need reliable access to a good range of quality products from responsible suppliers.

The UK needs a system that strikes the proper balance between choice and safety, whilst allowing for future changes as lessons are learnt. As such, our report will cover the fundamental policy choices that are necessary when devising an access regime and the trade offs policy-makers and legislators must make. It will explore the particular constraints and preferences that will influence what regime is workable in the UK. This includes healthcare culture, public attitudes and medical options - cannabis based medical products (CBMP) definitions, access routes; modes of consumption; applicable conditions, etc.

The CMC’s report will be informed by contributions from patient groups, and others, who will determine the outcomes that any new system must deliver against. The report will also draw lessons from other jurisdictions, and engage with clinicians and others, to define what types of medical access are in demand, in order to propose a model that suits the UK context.

The report will address some of the shortcomings of the current approach. This includes roadblocks for access and issues with the current definition of a CBMP - but will mostly focus on providing constructive suggestions for how a new system should work. We will draw on policy insights, scientific data, industry experience, clinician and stakeholder perspectives, and patient attitudes. Our report will set out the policy objectives we should be pursuing, so we can build the evidence base for medicinal cannabis, improve clinician knowledge; meet diverse patient needs and stimulate innovation. Finally, we will outline how patients and the NHS will benefit under our proposed model, and illustrate the optimal patient journey of a medicinal cannabis user in the NHS.


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Our Founding Team


Blair Gibbs

Policy Lead

Blair is a political consultant and former senior advisor in the UK government. He saw up close how current drug laws and prohibition impacts society and undermines the justice and healthcare systems. As policy advisor in the London Mayor’s Office, and subsequently in the Ministry of Justice, Blair has expertise in Whitehall policy-making and the UK’s regulatory regime for drugs. Based in Vancouver, he blogs for Volteface and sits on the board of the Stanford University Network for Addiction Policy.

Saoirse O’Sullivan

Science Lead

Saoirse has been researching the role and effects of endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids through basic and clinical research for 16 years. Saoirse works with patient groups and healthcare professionals to educate them on the benefits of cannabis-based medicines. Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham - see Saoirse’s research on Research Gate and Google Scholar. Runs an independent consulting business CanPharmaConsulting and is a science advisor to several pharmaceutical companies.

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Andy Yates

Pharmacy Lead

Andy has more than 15 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry including 10 years as an executive at AstraZeneca. He held key roles within the medical affairs, commercial, business development and strategy functions for AstraZeneca’s medicine’s portfolio. Andy has been extensively involved in the development and life-cycle management of key medicines leading to the funding and initiation of significant development programmes. Whilst in business development he led evaluations and transactions that resulted in multiple collaborative agreements with academia, biotechnology and peer pharma. Andy is a UK registered pharmacist who received his PhD in cannabinoid medicinal chemistry from the University of Nottingham. He currently runs an independent pharmaceutical consultancy business (, as well as holding a part time Honorary Lectureship at the School of Pharmacy Keele University.

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Steve Moore

Strategic Counsel

Steve is the founder and Director of Volteface with 25 years experience of working in social change and political campaigns. He directed the campaign with Charlotte Caldwell to reform policy relating to the access of medicinal cannabis. Steve was formerly Chief Executive of David Cameron's Big Society Network and has curated change programmes for Channel 4 Television, the Royal Society of Arts and PWC.

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Paul Birch


Paul was an internet entrepreneur, now an investor in FinTech businesses. Philanthropically he’s funded Volteface and The CMC. He’s not an investor in any cannabis businesses and has no interest to be.


Jon Liebling


Political Director of United Patients Alliance who provide advocacy, support and education for medicinal cannabis patients whilst campaigning and lobbying for legal access in the UK. He is interested in the relationship between medicinal cannabis and mental health. Jon joined the campaign for legal access to cannabis as a medicine in 2014.

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Basia Zieniewicz

External Relations & Patient Advocacy

Co-founder of Families4Access and a range of creative and co-operative initiatives in Canada, USA, and UK. Creative Director for various campaigns and small organisations. Arts & Special Educational Needs Educator. MA Diploma in Integrative Therapeutic Application of the Arts in Education. Basia has a keen interest in functional health and wellbeing, and motivated by ethical and meaningful change.

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Damian Mitchell

Father & Fundraiser

Father to an eight-year-old son, Darragh, who lives with autism and suffers from epilepsy. An advocate of medical cannabis, Damian has carried out extensive personal research around the globe to help his son and has witnessed first-hand the extensive clinical benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Damian is involved with advocacy group Families4Access and their role in shaping changes to the legislation around the administration of medical cannabis. Professionally Damian is a real estate investment specialist and member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


Charlotte Caldwell

CMC Ambassador, Mother and Campaigner for Medicinal Cannabis

Denied appropriate medical treatment for her son Billy’s epilepsy in Northern Ireland, Charlotte travelled to the US to a leading epilepsy doctor in 2008 with the help of a public fund-raising campaign. His seizures came back in 2016 causing a further crisis and a return to the US where medicinal cannabis was prescribed by his specialist. A supportive GP continued this in Northern Ireland until he was forced to desist by the Department of Health and the Home Office. In the summer of 2018 the Home Secretary agreed to reschedule cannabis derived medical products after a very successful media campaign led by Charlotte and Billy.


Paul Staines

Public Affairs Advisor

Co-founder of MessageSpace, a digital advertising agency based in Westminster which works with political parties, charities, trade unions and campaigns. He founded the popular Guido Fawkes political news website in Britain. Paul is also a director of GGN, an investment holding company in Hong Kong and Campaign Action in Ireland, where he lives.


John Burton

Medical Law Researcher

John took early retirement from Family Medicine as a GP in Northern Ireland in 2000 to study for his primary law degree. He was then awarded a Masters degree in Human Rights Law which focused on the interaction of UK Law and Medicine. Since then, he has supported a wide number of individuals campaigning against government medical authorities where individual civil liberties appeared to have been disregarded. In this work, John interacts with law firms, the media, politicians and NGOs.

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Iain Macauley


A former newspaper and broadcast journalist, Iain has been involved in generating and managing media coverage in both politics and business for more than 30 years, and operates very much as a journalist in PR. He has worked with UK, Irish and US government departments. He has also worked with law firms in both the UK and USA, and with investment houses in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.


On the 11th of October, Families4Access and United Patients Alliance were invited to partake in a Stakeholder Briefing for cannabis based products for medicinal use hosted by Home Office, Medicines and Healthcare products and Regulatory Agency & the Department of Health and Social Care.

Here we share the slide-pack with you.