Doctor holding red stethoscope.Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt lost his job as the UK’s chief drug advisor when he publicly criticized the government’s drug policies. Now, as the Edmond J Safra professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, he’s publishing articles in prominent journals to encourage physicians to “embrace cannabis like penicillin.”

In an article for the medical journal BMJ, Nutt says that doctors embraced penicillin without first running a full suite of trials because it met a major clinical need at the time. The same is true for patients suffering from severe epilepsy and other debilitating conditions, Nutt says, and therefore the response to medical cannabis should be no different from how the healthcare profession embraced penicillin 70 years ago.

Despite the loosening of the UK’s restrictive policy, however, doctors have still been reticent to actually prescribe cannabis to patients, especially minors.
As a result, Nutt said, the rollout of the UK’s medical cannabis program “has been much slower than patients and parents had hoped.”

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