medical marijuana in the UK
medical marijuana in the UK

Cannabis Now Available with a Prescription in the UK

Medical Marijuana is now legal in England with a Prescription

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Saturday Nov 3, 2018

Cannabis Now Available With a Prescription In The UK

Cannabis is now available for patients throughout England, Scotland, and Wales following pressure from activists and campaigners to legalize the drug.


The move came after a handful of high-profile cases involving young epileptic patients who were denied their cannabis oil medicine, which was needed to control their seizures. Previously in the UK, cannabis was listed as a Schedule 1 drug, or having been thought of as possessing no medicinal value. Cannabis treatments that meet the “appropriate standards” have now been reclassified into Schedule II substances, which are those that have known medical use.


This prompted chief medical officer Dame Sally Davis to conduct an initial review, which led her to conclude that there was sufficient evidence that cannabis is indeed therapeutic. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which was conducting the second part of the cannabis review, said that doctors should be able to recommend cannabis-infused medications provided that they meet safety standards.


However, as of this week, only cannabis-based products can be legally prescribed by specialist doctors for certain cases. There are currently around 80,000 licensed doctors who are allowed to prescribe cannabis; GP’s can’t prescribe them just yet.


But are doctors actually going to prescribe cannabis?  NHS doctors have barely any idea how to do so; the Independent reports that many doctors say they wouldn’t, because if something goes wrong, there is no infrastructure in place to support them.


The NHS released a statement to serve as guidance for doctors in the UK saying that cannabis can only be prescribed if there is clear and published evidence that it would benefit the patient, and only if other treatment options have already been exhausted. Cannabis-based treatment can be prescribed for children with rare forms of epilepsy, adults suffering from nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy, and adults suffering from muscle stiffness due to multiple sclerosis. Patients who are interested to obtain cannabis medications can be referred to a specialist doctor by their GP.


Additionally, the Home Office says that only regulated treatments produced specifically for medical purposes can be prescribed. Eventually, this may include capsules, pills, and oils although smoked cannabis will not be allowed. The permitted medications will be allowed to contain different ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).


What People Are Saying


It might seem like good news, but the changes in legalization mean that people may be struggling to get their medicine because it’s far too strict. According to Hannah Deacon, mother of Alfie Dingley, one of the patients involved in the high-profile cases earlier this year: “It’s absolutely gutting and not what my campaign was about.”


For Emma Appleby, whose 9-year-old daughter Teagan has severe epilepsy, it isn’t clear when she will get to obtain her medications. She also says that the new guidelines may mean that her daughter may be prescribed less potent medications than initially suggested. “It’s heartbreaking to watch your child suffer every single day, knowing there’s a product that can help, could help…”


But for Dr. Michael Bloomfield of the University College London, the new approach makes sense. “It’s going to be very hard for doctors to prescribe cannabis-related products to begin with, and I think it’s right that’s the case,” Bloomfield says. “When we don’t have very strong evidence for any medicine, then it should be hard to prescribe something because we should be prescribing medicines when there’s a very strong evidence base for them,” he says.


“We’re calling on NHS England to revisit this guidance urgently, and engage with neurological experts to ensure people with MS are not left disappointed and unable to access the right treatment for them,” says Genevieve Edwards of the MS Society.


“Given the backdrop of a very preoccupied and socially conservative government, the legislation is a victory in and of itself,” said Henry Fisher, policy advisor at drug policy consultancy firm Hanway Associates. “But that’s reflected in why they’ve made it very restrictive. They are very wary of allowing too broad an access to patients, and then that leading to broader reforms,” he says.


The UK government was also quick to add that this isn’t going to lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis. “There will be strict controls in place and this is in no way a step towards legalizing the recreational use of cannabis,” said Home Secretary Sajid Javid.


Cannabis Now Available with a Prescription in the UK from CannabisNet on Vimeo.








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