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Med Cann

A quick guide to medical cannabis in the UK

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There are thousands of medical cannabis patients across the UK.

The UK government legalised medical cannabis in 2018.

Now, patients of all ages and backgrounds rely on the plant to treat all kinds of conditions, both mental and physical.

The basics

Medical cannabis is a medical-grade cannabis drug containing varying concentrations of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids.

The medicine comes in a number of forms, including drops, sprays and raw flower.

The type of cannabis prescribed and its cannabinoid profile will depend on the condition being treated and the patient’s preferences.

Medical cannabis on the NHS

There are currently only two cannabis medicines on the NHS: Epidyolex for treatment-resistant epilepsy and Sativex for MS-related muscle spasticity.

Nabilone is a synthetic drug that mimics the effect of THC. It can be prescribed to chemotherapy patients to ease sickness and vomiting.

To access any other cannabis medicine, patients have to go to private clinics.

Since medical cannabis was legalised, only three medical cannabis prescriptions have been issued by NHS doctors.

Medical cannabis clinics

Medical cannabis can only be prescribed by specialist doctors, the majority of whom work in private clinics.

These clinics service the overwhelming majority of medical cannabis patients in the UK.

Patients are prescribed cannabis for everything from anxiety and insomnia to Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Chronic pain patients account for many of the prescriptions.

Patients are required to attend a consultation appointment where the doctor will determine whether cannabis is an appropriate treatment and which particular medicine and formulation to prescribe.

If cannabis flower is prescribed, the patient will be told to vape, not smoke it as part of the prescription agreement.

Fees

Patients can spend thousands of pounds a month on private prescriptions. But generally speaking, the cost is going down.

Thanks to schemes like Project Twenty21 and the Sapphire Access Scheme, many patients now pay around £150 per month.

However, the price of a prescription will depend on the condition being treated and the quantity of medicine required each month.

Patients may also be required to pay consultation fees.

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