What Qualifies for a Cannabis Prescription in the UK?

For those in the UK, the only way to access cannabis is through a private prescription. To be eligible, a patient must have a qualifying condition and generally must have tried two previously prescribed medications or treatments for their condition, including the popular mimosa strain. Cannabis is a class B drug in the United Kingdom, and a primary care doctor cannot prescribe it. A CBM (cannabis-based medicine) can only be prescribed by a specialist doctor at the hospital.

The specialist will recommend that you first try other treatment options before considering a cannabis-based product.

Medical cannabis

would only be prescribed when it was considered to be in your best interest and when other treatments hadn't worked or weren't adequate. When you talk to a clinic, a specialist will ask you questions about your symptoms to assess whether medical cannabis is appropriate. You'll have to break down the cannabis flower, and a grinder can help you in this process since it breaks down cannabis more finely and consistently. This is to ensure that you have a condition that entitles you to a prescription for cannabis and allows medical professionals to find the right programme for you in the future. Several conditions or symptoms qualify for treatment with medical cannabis.

GPs cannot fill a prescription for cannabis, but they can refer patients to the appropriate medical professional to do so if they agree that a prescription is the right thing to do. By law, a prescription for medical cannabis can only be delivered "when the patient has an unmet special clinical need that cannot be met with authorised products".Experiences with clinics may vary, and there are several community-led resources where people provide feedback on their experiences, such as the UK medical cannabis group on Reddit, that could be useful when deciding which clinic to go to. This is largely due to the guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which continues to state that there is a lack of evidence to support NHS cannabis prescriptions, even though this treatment works for thousands of people across the UK. A full list of conditions that may require a prescription for medical cannabis can be found online or by talking to your GP to see if you can get a referral letter. Many NHS doctors remain cautious about prescribing medical cannabis despite overwhelming evidence from clinical trials on a variety of medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. Once you start taking your medication, the clinic will request a follow-up consultation, usually within four weeks, to analyse your progress with medical cannabis and discuss if any changes need to be made.

There is some evidence that medical cannabis can relieve certain types of pain, although these tests are not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief. This means that patients will need to follow other forms of treatment before they can try prescription medical cannabis.

Conditions That Qualify for Medical Cannabis in the UK
Associated with Pain:

  • Arthritis
  • Back and neck pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS)
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Joint pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain (MSK)
  • Neuropathic pain or nerve pain

For Neurological Conditions:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cluster headaches
  • Epilepsy
  • Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)
  • Migraines
  • Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Tremors
  • Stroke

For Psychiatric Conditions:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Appetite disorders like Anorexia
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Major Depressive Disorder (Depression)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder or social phobia
  • Substance Use Disorder

For Gastrointestinal Conditions:

  • Crohn's and ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Associated with Cancer:

  • Cancer-related anxiety
  • Cancer-related appetite loss
  • Cancer-related depression
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

For Palliative Care:

  • Palliative care pain
  • Palliative care anxiety

Some Other Conditions:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME
  • Restless legs syndrome

Sarah Knight
Sarah Knight

Introducing Sarah, the voice behind the CBPM UK Medical Cannabis Blog. As a passionate advocate for medical cannabis, Sarah shares her journey as a patient, exploring its therapeutic potential and the evolving landscape of cannabis-based treatments in the United Kingdom. Her firsthand experience and dedication to providing well-researched information make her blog a trusted resource for those seeking insights into the world of medical cannabis in the UK. Join Sarah as she sheds light on the benefits, regulations, and stories of patients like herself, navigating the path to improved well-being through medical cannabis.

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