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Medical marijuana is finally being legalised in the UK

But the home secretary is adamant we’re no closer to legalising it for recreational use

After becoming much more widely available across the U.S in recent years, medical cannabis is now being legalised in the UK. The Home Office has today (July 26) announced that medicine derived from marijuana will be available on prescription by the autumn, bringing relief for many sufferers of illnesses that could be managed with the drug.

“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory,” says home secretary Sajid Javid. “This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need.” Javid is also quick to clarify this doesn’t mean we’re any closer to marijuana for recreational use, though, saying that the change is “in no way a first step” towards its legalisation

The announcement follows the high-profile case of Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old with a rare form of epilepsy who was granted an emergency license to be treated with medical marijuana in July, by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health. (Incidentally, it also falls on his thirteenth birthday)

People have been campaigning for the legalisation of medical marijuana in the UK for some time – a petition launched four months ago gained 240,000 signatures – and the decision has been met with an outpouring of support from the struggling parents of epileptic children and organisations such as the MS Society.