Using medicinal cannabis to treat patients may not benefit them as much as hoped, experts have told MPs.

So far, trials have shown only ‘moderate benefits’ to those who take cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating component of the marijuana plant, to treat two rare types of epilepsy, the president of the British Paediatric Neurology Association said.

And some studies into cannabis’ effectiveness on treating pain suggest it will take 24 patients before one sees a benefit – but just six before one experiences harmful side-effects.

Professor Finbar O’Callaghan told the Health and Social Care Committee he was ‘completely behind’ the Government’s decision last year to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis in some cases.

But he warned there is little evidence to prove the products are effective or safe, and that it could take three years for adequate trials to be done.

‘In the countries where these cannabis products have been used widely, they’re not appearing to be the magic bullet that has a dramatic effect,’ he said.

Professor Andrew Goddard, of the Royal College of Physicians, said there was currently not enough evidence to support the drugs’ use for pain.

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