Politicians running scared of big pharma and the taboo around cannabis are blocking access to these vital drugs

That the government will allow a few serious epilepsy and multiple sclerosis sufferers to get cannabidiol medicine to relieve their symptoms is good news. That is all that can be said. Once more a decision emerges from the caverns of Britain’s NHS that reveals the evils of a politicised, centralised, deadened health service.

As it is, any cannabis medicine that contains active THC as a painkiller – as does medical marijuana for millions of people worldwide – will stay banned. Medicinal cannabis may be available across the free world. It may be available in Donald Trump’s America – where the president “backs medical cannabis 100%”. British sufferers may be able to cross the Channel and (illegally) import it. At home, it can be bought on almost every street corner, to be consumed by a reported 1.4 million Britons in pain. But British politicians love playing doctor. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has a general election to fight. Pain must wait. He is in the grip of a cannabis taboo – and big pharma.

When last year, the then home secretary (note, not the health secretary), Sajid Javid, issued licences for cannabis-based medicines for children in two highly publicised cases, it seemed progress was being made. But it turned out to be simply a headline-grabbing gesture. Ranks promptly closed. Read more