Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018. Since then specialist doctors are permitted to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what you need to know about medical cannabis laws in the UK, including who is eligible for medical cannabis and how much it costs.
|Is medical cannabis legal in the UK?||Yes, medical cannabis is legal in the UK with a prescription from a specialist doctor.|
|What conditions qualify for medical cannabis prescription in the UK?||Qualifying conditions include chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, among others.|
|Can I drive while using medical cannabis?||It is important to use caution when using medical cannabis and avoid driving if you feel impaired. Drivers should inform the DVLA if they have a condition that affects their driving.|
|How much does medical cannabis cost in the UK?||The cost of medical cannabis can vary widely depending on the specific product and the individual patient’s needs.|
|Can I get Sativex in the NHS?||Sativex is available on the NHS, but it is only prescribed in limited circumstances.|
|Why is it difficult to get medical cannabis on the NHS if it’s legal?||There are a number of factors that contribute to the difficulty of accessing medical cannabis on the NHS, including the limited list of qualifying conditions and the reluctance of some healthcare professionals to prescribe cannabis-based products.|
|Who is eligible for medical cannabis?||Patients with a qualifying condition who have exhausted all other treatment options and have a specialist doctor who is willing to prescribe medical cannabis.|
|Can I get medical cannabis in the UK without a diagnosis of a condition?||No, you cannot get medical cannabis in the UK without a diagnosis of a qualifying condition.|
Medical cannabis is legal high grade cannabis flower or oil, typically, from the species cannabis sativa and can be prescribed by specialist doctors.
Medical cannabis is pharmaceutical grade cannabis with a moderate to high cannabinoid content (over 0.2% THC) whereas hemp (Industrial hemp) has a low cannabinoid content (below 0.2% THC).
In 2023, medical cannabis is legal in UK under prescription. However, not just any doctor can prescribe medical cannabis. Only doctors specialising in medical cannabis can prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use.
Medical cannabis is available on prescription from a specialist doctor registered with the General Medicine Council (GMC). In most cases, the medical cannabis prescriptions are made by private specialist clinics. There is a strict process to follow in order to get a prescription. Read on to learn more.
In rare cases, the NHS will prescribe medical cannabis. There are several challenges to overcome before we see more patients receive medical cannabis on the NHS. Currently, the organisation that makes recommendations on medications (NICE) is cautious on recommending medical cannabis for specific conditions until more safety and efficacy data is available.
It is important to note that before medical cannabis can be prescribed the patient must have exhausted all other medical options. If you have had any of the following conditions and you have tried licensed medication then you could be eligible:
For a patient to be prescribed medical cannabis, a strict process must be followed including the involvement of specialist doctors and clinicians. But the first step requires the patient to visit their local GP.
Prices of treatment vary from £150 to £600 per month depending on the clinic. However, initial consultations range from £49 to £200. Some clinics include the cost of the product in their fee whereas others just issue the prescription and you can take that to a pharmacy.
The organisation that works with the NHS on recommending treatments for particular conditions does not currently recommend medical cannabis preferring existing medications. Factors in their decision making include cost/benefit and weight of evidence (lack of robust data).
How doctors and institutions perceive medical cannabis plays an important part in the growth of the market. Overtime as more clinical data emerges we should see perceptions changing and more key players warming to medical cannabis as a potential treatment.
Slowly but surely the medical cannabis landscape in the UK is shifting. As more scientific studies emerge attitudes will soften and we could see a loosening of regulation allowing more patients to receive free medical cannabis on the NHS.
Want to learn more? Check out our online CBD regulation course. We cover medical cannabis licensing and manufacturing requirements, among other things.