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Your Journey to Medical Cannabis Prescription in the UK

Medical cannabis, often being touted as a revolutionary treatment for an array of health conditions, is an arena of increasing interest among patients and practitioners in the UK. Despite its recognised potential, there's an undeniable level of mystique and misapprehension surrounding how one may acquire a prescription for this unconventional medicine.

This guide aims to shed light on the process and criteria for obtaining a Medical Cannabis prescription in the UK. We'll explore the legal framework, the situation in the NHS, and the private avenues available for prospective patients. By the end of this article, you should gain a clear understanding of what's involved in obtaining a medical cannabis prescription.

Medical Cannabis Legalisation in the UK

In November 2018, the UK legalised medical cannabis following mounting pressure from patients and advocacy groups. These advocates were driven by high-profile cases like Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, who suffered from rare forms of drug-resistant epilepsy. Stories like these stirred public sympathy and led to a crucial policy shift in the UK government. However, despite legalisation, stringent conditions apply to the prescription of medical cannabis, especially in the National Health System (NHS).

Criteria for Medical Cannabis Prescription on the NHS

Under the NHS, a specialist hospital doctor, or a doctor operating under special supervision, can prescribe medical cannabis. However, it's only likely to be chosen as a treatment option for a tiny number of patients. A specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis for conditions such as spasticity from MS, epilepsy, and feelings of sickness from chemotherapy— all cases where other treatments have proven ineffective.

A doctor would only prescribe medical cannabis when they believe its use is genuinely in the patient's best interests. They would exhaust all other treatment options before considering it as a potential remedy.

It should be noted that most GPs are not registered to prescribe cannabis-based medicines, so asking your GP for a referral may not yield the desired result. Thus, as the above conditions apply to a small number of people, procuring medical cannabis via the NHS is not the most accessible route.

Embracing Private Clinics

While the path to medical cannabis via the NHS may be narrow, private clinics present a significant light at the end of the tunnel. There's a growing number of registered medical cannabis clinics and independent prescribers operating in the UK reflecting the demand.

The prescription process varies slightly across clinics, but the core principle remains unchanged; you will see a specialist doctor. This specialist will assess your medical history, current health state, and suitability for a medical cannabis prescription. You may complete this assessment via an online consultation, a great advantage for those who find travelling to the clinic physically challenging or time-consuming.

Steps to Obtain Medical Cannabis Prescription Through Private Clinics

If you choose to approach a private clinic to procure medical cannabis, here are the steps you can anticipate:

  1. Pick a Clinic: Choose from one of the regulated medical cannabis clinics. Consider any area of specialty that aligns with your health needs.
  2. Complete an Eligibility Assessment: You'll be asked to fill in a questionnaire to assess if you're eligible. This questionnaire will explore your medical history, current health state, and whether medical cannabis is appropriate for your case.
  3. Consultation: If the clinic marks you as a potential candidate for a cannabis prescription, they will schedule a consultation for you with a specialist doctor. During this consultation, you'll discuss your condition and how medical cannabis might aid you.

Following these steps, if the doctor deems you eligible, they'll write a prescription. They'll also guide you on dosage and administration methods, often starting with a low dose that can be increased progressively.

Forms of Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis unfolds in a number of application options. The form that's best for you would depend on your lifestyle and health needs. Your doctor will help you select the most fitting form. Notably, if medical cannabis is prescribed in a dry flower form, it will require vaporising for ingestion. It’s worth noting that this pure form of the medicine has not undergone processing which might appeal to many patients who prefer natural treatments.

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