The UK’s doomed Medical Cannabis (Access) Bill

BCL Senior Associate, David Hardstaff and Partner, John Binns write for Open Access Government exploring the UK’s doomed Medical Cannabis (Access) Bill.

*Here is a short extract from the article:

It is becoming difficult to remember a week in UK- parliamentary politics that wasn’t defined by some sort of alleged scandal or drama. Against this backdrop, you may wonder how any actual work is done over and above the daily fighting of fires and attempts at political survival. For UK-based patients struggling to access much needed cannabis-based medicines, it has been difficult to be heard over the white noise of the daily news cycle. A notable and recent example of this is the ‘talking out’ of the Medical Cannabis (Access) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Labour MP, Jeff Smith.

All controlled drugs in the UK are scheduled according to their potential harm and medical or therapeutic use. 2018 saw the apparent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in the UK, through the rescheduling of cannabis-based medicines from Schedule 1 (controlled drugs with little or no medicinal or therapeutic use) to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Heralded as a watershed moment within patient and industry circles, the move had broad political support across party lines. However, over three years since the change in the law, the consensus that underpinned it has waned.

* This article was first published by Open Access Government on 04 February 2022.  If you wish you read the full article please visit Open Access Government website.


David Hardstaff is an associate solicitor at BCL specialising in criminal and regulatory law. He advises individuals and companies in relation to controlled drug licensing and AML/Proceeds of Crime considerations in the context of the domestic and international cannabis market. He has particular experience in advising and representing individuals accused of sexual offences, drugs offences and offences involving violence. He is an experienced police station representative and advocate and represents clients in a broad range of proceedings at the Magistrates’ Court, Crown Court and Court of Appeal.

John Binns is a partner at BCL specialising in all aspects of business crime, with a particular interest in confiscation, civil recovery and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”). His business crime experience includes representing suspects, defendants and witnesses in cases invoking allegations of bribery and corruption, fraud (including carbon credits, carousel/MTIC, land-banking, Ponzi and pyramid scheme frauds), insider trading, market abuse, price-fixing, sanctions-busting, and tax evasion. He has coordinated and undertaken corporate investigations and defended in cases brought by BEIS, the FCA, HMRC, NCA, OFT, SFO and others.

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