On November 1, 2018, the UK changed the law on medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis products were moved from schedule 1, meaning they have no medicinal value, to schedule 2, which allowed doctors to prescribe them under certain circumstances. This change to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 was partly a response to a rapid evidence review commissioned by the Home Secretary for the Chief Medical Officer, which concluded that some medicinal cannabis products were effective for some medical conditions, and formal advice from the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to change the schedule.
Perhaps a more powerful driver of the rescheduling was a well-organised publicity campaign that received public support due to a compelling and difficult-to-challenge emotional narrative of sick children, the use of confrontational tactics, large financial backing, and privileged access to national media and senior politicians. But did this wave of media publicity and public support lead to unrealistic expectations about accessing medicinal cannabis?