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UK government has no plans to consider adult use.
Back in September, we reported in this newsletter that the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee published a report that called the country’s drug laws “outdated,” and made some recommendations to expand medical cannabis access.
This week, the UK government published its response to the committee’s report.
In response to a recommendation that the government “widens the accessibility” of “unlicensed” cannabis products, which are essentially products that are not pharmaceuticals like Epidiolex, for therapeutic purposes, the government wrote that it “does not accept this recommendation.”
“Whether to prescribe medicinal cannabis, or any other drug, is a clinical decision and not a matter for Government policy. Licensed cannabis-based medicines are routinely available and funded on the NHS. However, for unlicensed cannabis-based medicines, clinical guidelines from the NICE demonstrate a clear need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions. Until that evidence base is built, clinicians will remain reticent to prescribe and no decision can be made by the NHS on routine funding,” they wrote.
The government accepted the recommendation that it “supports researchers to conduct randomised control trials into the effectiveness of [cannabis-based products for medicinal use] to treat chronic pain,” and, if so, “enables the use of [cannabis-based products for medicinal use] for this purpose and works with clinicians to ensure that it is a treatment option in appropriate cases.”
And, finally, the government agreed with the committee’s concerns on adult use.
The committee wrote: “We are concerned by the harms that cannabis for non-medical use may pose, particularly in relation to young people. We do not believe that cannabis should be legalised and regulated for non-medical use.”
The government responded that it “shares the Committee’s concerns about the harms of cannabis and does not intend to legalise and regulate cannabis for non- medical use. There is clear scientific and medical evidence which shows that cannabis poses a large number of health risks, including psychological and respiratory disorders. The legalisation of cannabis would also not address the harms associated with drug dependence.”
South Africa’s adult use bill advances.
Back in 2020, the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill was introduced in South Africa’s Parliament. After years of delays, followed by committee meetings, public comment, and plenty of debate among stakeholders, this bill passed out of the National Assembly this week.
Now, it heads to the other chamber: the National Council of Provinces.
The bill does not allow for regulated sales, only personal cultivation and consumption, as well as expungements for past possession convictions.
What does the latest national drug use survey say about cannabis?
This week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, within the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, released the results of its 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The comprehensive report looks at substance use and mental health, and provides insights into trends over time.
The words “over time” here are key, as the changing survey methodology (and other circumstances, like the pandemic) means that drawing conclusions based on comparisons of data from one year to the next isn’t always sound.
Nonetheless, the report is a useful snapshot. And this year, for the first time, the survey includes specifics on methods of cannabis consumption.
Here are some of the cannabis-related takeaways:
Past month use: In 2022, 15% (42.3 million) of those 12 and older said they consumed cannabis in the past month.
Past year use: In 2022, 22% (61.9 million) of those 12 and older said they consumed in the past year.
Mode of use: For the first time, we know how people say they are consuming. (“Other” includes topicals, lozenges, pills, and “some other way.”)
Use disorder: About 6.7% (19 million) of those 12 or older said they had a cannabis use disorder in 2022.
Perception of risk and availability: Across age groups, the perception that regular cannabis consumption is a “great risk” is down, while perceptions of availability are up, with the exception of youth aged 12-17, who perceive availability as lower.
Impaired driving: Across age groups, there was an increase in those who said they “drove under influence” of cannabis.