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The First Steps to Getting Prescribed Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis has been recognised for its potential to help manage various health conditions, from epilepsy to chronic pain. The use of this unconventional treatment is becoming more widely accepted worldwide due to its potential benefits. However, due to its status as a controlled substance in many jurisdictions, obtaining a prescription for medical cannabis can be a process filled with plenty of questions and confusion. If you are considering medical cannabis as a treatment option, these are the first steps you should know about.

Understanding Medical Cannabis

Before delving into the steps needed to secure a medical cannabis prescription, it is vital to have a clear understanding of what medical cannabis is and how it works. Cannabinoids, the active chemicals in medical cannabis, are similar to chemicals the body produces that are involved in regulating pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement, appetite, and pain. This helps to explain why it may affect so many different conditions.

You and Your Doctor: Discussing Medical Cannabis

One critical step toward getting prescribed medical cannabis lies in discussing it with your doctor. It's important to note that medicinal cannabis is not a first-line treatment for any condition. It's typically considered when standard treatments have failed to bring about the desired results. When you visit your healthcare provider, they may ask you to fill in a detailed questionnaire focusing on your medical history, current state of health, and whether a prescription for medical cannabis might be suitable for you. It is crucial during this stage to be completely honest and provide comprehensive information, as this plays a major role in whether you will be considered as a candidate for a cannabis prescription.

What should I know before starting medical cannabis treatment?

Choosing a Clinic or A Doctor

Once you and your healthcare provider have determined that medical cannabis may be a viable treatment option, the next step is finding a suitable clinic or a medical professional who can prescribe it. Around 13 registered medical cannabis clinics and independent prescribers are currently operating in the UK, and finding a reliable one is vital for your health and wellness journey. It's important to choose a specialist who makes you feel comfortable discussing your health and, most importantly, has the necessary experience and knowledge in prescribing medical cannabis.

How do I find a qualified medical cannabis doctor or clinic?

Understanding the Different Forms of Medical Cannabis

Contrary to common belief, medical cannabis does not come in one standard form. Medical cannabis can be dispensed in a multitude of forms, like capsules, oils, tinctures, topicals, and it can even be vaporised. The form you end up using will mostly depend on your preference, lifestyle, and your specific medical condition. Your doctor will discuss this with you and prescribe you the most appropriate form.

What are the different forms of medical cannabis and how do I choose the right one?

Obtaining Your Prescription

After all these steps have been successfully completed, your doctor may then write you a prescription which you can take to any pharmacy to have your medical cannabis product dispensed. Keep in mind that in England, medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor, on the NHS, or under a specialist's supervision.

How do I get a prescription for medical cannabis in the UK?

Deciding On Your Dosage

Once your doctor has written out your prescription, they will discuss with you your dosage and how to administer it. They may typically start you off with a lower dose and increase it over time depending on how well your body responds to the treatment. It's important to follow your doctor's guidance regarding your intake, as they would have taken into consideration factors such as your body weight, your tolerance to the drug, the exact nature of your condition and the severity of symptoms.

What dosage of medical cannabis should I start with?

Understanding Interactions

It's important to know that medical cannabis can interact with other medications that you are currently using. This is why it's crucial to provide your healthcare professional with a list of any medications, supplements, or vitamins you're currently taking. This will allow them to ensure that the use of cannabis alongside these treatments does not cause any adverse effects.

Can I use medical cannabis alongside my current medications?

Monitoring Your Progress

With the initial steps completed, and once you begin your cannabis treatment, it's important to closely monitor your progress. Listen to your body and take note of any changes (both good and bad) in your health. This will help you and your doctor assess the effectiveness of the treatment. And, if necessary, allow adjustments to your treatment plan for optimised results.

How do I track my progress and effectiveness of medical cannabis treatment?

Being Aware of Potential Side Effects

Like any other medication, medical cannabis is not without its range of potential side effects. These may include tiredness, vomiting, diarrhoea, changes in appetite and mood changes among others. As you embark on this treatment journey, it's important to be aware of these potential complications and endeavour to manage them effectively.

What are the potential side effects of medical cannabis and how can I manage them?

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