Medical Cannabis in the UK: How Can I Access it?
In 2018, the UK government tentatively legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes, and ever since, people have been asking one question: how can I get it? In this post, we are going to discuss the possible routes you can take in order to access medical cannabis in the UK. It should be noted, though, that only in very particular circumstances will you qualify for a prescription. So, if you’re here to find out how to lie your way to a supply of therapeutic cannabis, we recommend stopping here, as a doctor will soon see right through it.
What is Medical Cannabis?
As the title signals, medical cannabis is medical-grade marijuana used for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes.
Cannabis, known under many different pseudonyms, is home to hundreds of chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The main cannabinoids you will have heard of are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two constituents, principally THC, give cannabis its intoxicating effects, producing euphoria, relaxation, the “munchies”, and other such effects.
Though people often use cannabis for enjoyment (albeit illegally in many countries), it has long been known to have medicinal benefits. As such, many countries around the world have legalized medical marijuana to help people manage their symptoms associated with various ailments. Among those countries is the UK, with cannabis remaining a schedule 2 drug, illegal for recreational use. However, it remains arduous to be able to access medical-grade cannabis in the UK.
In What Forms is it Available in the UK?
At present, medical-grade cannabis is available on prescription from medical cannabis clinic UK to those who suffer from the following:
- Severe, rare forms of epilepsy;
- Vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy;
- MS-related muscle stiffness and spasms.
Those with epilepsy can be prescribed Epidyolex, while Nabilone is the cannabis-based drug for chemotherapy nausea, and Nabiximols/Sativex is prescribed for MS spasticity.
Accessing it via the NHS
Whilst it’s not possible for a GP to prescribe you medical cannabis directly, they can refer you to a specialist to discuss the option of a medical cannabis prescription.
When referred to a specialist, you will discuss other treatment options first, and cannabis-based medicines will be a last resort. It is typically only prescribed if all other treatments have not worked.
Why is Access So Restricted On the NHS?
On the subject of cannabis, the UK government remains nervous. Due to many products being unlicensed, paired with the alleged insufficient evidence surrounding the uses of medical marijuana, the power to prescribe it is limited to doctors listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. As such, medical-grade cannabis is not easily accessible on the NHS.
Consultants working in private healthcare have more freedom when it comes to medicinal cannabis prescriptions. Thanks to its potential health benefits, the range of ailments for which it can be prescribed is much more extensive, including Depression, Anxiety, Sleep disorders, OCD, Migraines, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease symptoms — to name just a few.
We wish we could tell you that it is more straightforward to access medical marijuana, but as the situation stands, doctors will likely try every other possible option first. Still, if you think your symptoms qualify, it is undoubtedly worth the conversation with your GP.