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In the UK, medical cannabis has been legal since December 2018. This means that doctors can prescribe it to patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease. However, despite the fact that the law allows doctors to prescribe cannabis products, there have been very few prescriptions given out.

This discrepancy is due to several factors. First, the number of doctors willing to prescribe cannabis has remained low. Second, the process for obtaining a prescription is complex. Third, the cost of cannabis products is high, making access difficult for many patients. Finally, the quality of cannabis products varies widely.

Yet, despite these challenges, the use of cannabis for medical purposes continues to grow rapidly among patients across the UK. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (Couch, 2020), showed that one million people in the UK are using cannabis for medical reasons.

Despite being one of the world’s most influential countries in terms of legalization, the UK continues to lag behind many European nations in terms of medical cannabis regulation. There are currently over 60 different types of cannabinoids identified within the plant, however, only three of those – THC, CBD, and CBDA – are legally regulated.

As such, there are significant gaps in knowledge about how the body processes cannabinoids, what conditions they treat, and whether there are any harmful effects associated with prolonged cannabinoid consumption.

Medical cannabis is atypical because it was used therapeutically long before its efficacy was demonstrated in controlled studies. There is no doubt that patients want access to medical cannabis for a variety of reasons, including alleviating pain, reducing nausea during chemotherapy, and improving sleep quality.

However, the current system for accessing medical cannabis in England does not allow clinicians to prescribe it where it is most needed.

In addition to these regulatory hurdles, there are additional practical difficulties that prevent doctors from prescribing medically. For example, the cost of obtaining medical cannabis varies considerably across different regions of the UK; it is sometimes impossible to obtain cannabis locally.

Finally, the supply chain for medical cannabis is complex and unpredictable. Some suppliers deliver cannabis directly to clinics, while others sell cannabis over the counter, requiring patients to purchase it themselves.

The current system in place in the UK is based on licensing cannabis products to patients who are already taking licensed drugs. This approach is being used because it is considered unethical to offer unlicensed treatments alongside licensed ones.

This situation needs to change and believe there is sufficient evidence now to suggest that cannabis medicines work well for many conditions and we think it is important that clinicians are able to prescribe them.

This wants to ensure that patients receive safe and effective treatment and that this happens quickly and easily wherever possible. To do this, we must build up a robust evidence base showing that cannabis works for specific indications and that it does so safely.Medical cannabis in the UK: From principle to practice - PMC

When conventional treatments reach their limit, our work begins.

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