Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.
Epidyolex can be prescribed for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (both rare forms of epilepsy).
Can I get a prescription for medical cannabis?
Nabiximols (Sativex) is a cannabis-based medicine that is sprayed into the mouth.
The main risks of THC cannabis products are:
They tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it’s not clear what effect they would have.
People often think of cannabis as a single drug but, ideally, cannabis treatment should be tailored to the patient, putting it firmly into the realm of 21 st century personalized medicine. These days, next-generation vaporizers can tell the patient the amounts of various cannabinoids they have consumed, then gather data on how effective the treatment has been and which mix of compounds works best for that patient. A whole range of innovative delivery systems then becomes available, from app-driven transdermal patches to chewing gum.
The UK is a conservative country and it will likely take time to cut red tape and provide a unified regulatory framework. However, as treatments are confirmed through trials and patient numbers increase, the pace of change will accelerate.
It’s long past time for the NHS to embrace medical cannabis as a credible treatment
Many clinicians argue that the UK is sleepwalking into an opiate crisis similar to the one that has been raging in the USA for over 20 years. Regardless of where you stand on the opiate debate, the fact remains that addiction is a problem for both prescription and over-the-counter opiates – and that the pain-relieving properties of medical cannabis could offer a less harmful solution.
To deal with the complexities of the cannabis industry, we need a central office that regulates quality in the medical market, much like those in Germany and the Netherlands. Now that the UK has left the EU, and especially with the impact of COVID-19, the country will need to move quickly to achieve this. As an added incentive, a full-plant cannabis economy has been demonstrated to provide jobs, opportunities, and much-needed tax revenue.
The UK has only recently adopted the use of medical cannabis. The current legislative framework is chaotic, with guidelines from different government agencies often at odds. Patients need to have exhausted all pharmaceutical options before becoming eligible for medical cannabis. Even then, UK doctors resist prescribing it and approving bodies are reluctant to fund it. This means that many people who desperately need cannabis-based medicines are forced to raise funds themselves or run the risk of a criminal record by buying it illegally.