UK patients may now be prescribed medical cannabis as of today, thanks to a change in the law.
Certain specialist doctors – not your GP – will be allowed to give their patients some cannabis-based products including THC, which leaves users feeling “high”, and more commonly CBD, which is being studied for its health benefits.
Over the past few months, numerous cases have sprung to the media’s attention regarding cannabis. Billy Caldwell, the 12-year-old whose epilepsy is only eased by the use of cannabis oil, had his supply seized at Heathrow airport after his mother tried to bring it back from Canada. Billy’s mother, Charlotte, told Sky News after the legalisation: “For me what started off as a journey which was about the needs of my little boy actually turned into something, proved to be something, a lot bigger. It proved to be the needs of a nation.”
Great news for patients like #BillyCaldwell who rely on medical cannabis oils, drops & ointments who until now have had to rely on criminal drug dealers. V proud to have helped lead the campaign for #MedicalCannabis. Thank you @sajidjavid @NickHurdUK @VoltefaceHub 👍 #BillysLaw pic.twitter.com/yRdRyFq7sy
— George Freeman MP (@GeorgeFreemanMP) October 7, 2018
Chief medical adviser Dame Sally Davies found evidence that cannabis, when used medicinally, can have therapeutic benefits. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs concluded that as long as the cannabis meets safety standards, doctors should have the ability to prescribe it to their patients.
In a written statement to Parliament, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I stressed the importance of acting swiftly to ensure that where medically appropriate, these products could be available to be prescribed to patients.”
He also made it clear that he has no intention of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis: “To take account of the particular risk of misuse of cannabis by smoking and the operational impacts on enforcement agencies, the 2018 regulations continue to prohibit smoking of cannabis, including of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans.” Just this past month, Canada became the second country to legalise the possession and use of cannabis.
There are some concerns, however, that the process of getting a prescription will be a long and arduous one, something a person with a chronic illness really cannot afford. United Patients Alliance director Clark French who also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, told Sky News: “A lot of patients are going to want to access cannabis, they’re going to be sent to their specialist and the specialists are going to be inundated with requests. Really what the government needs to do is allows GPs to prescribe cannabis as well.”
For more information on who will be eligible for a prescription, click here.
Words: Sorcha Gilheany I Subbing: Leyi Chen