But major regulatory hurdles remain before patients across the UK can obtain legal access to medical cannabis, including CBD.
For the past two years, there has been no official data available on the amount of legally prescribed medical cannabis being used in England. This changed earlier this month when the National Health Service (NHS) Business Services Authority (BSA) published figures showing that it had received over 7,500 requests for information about the prescribing of medicinal cannabis products in England during 2018/19.
The government plans to allow patients access to medicinal cannabis under the MTP scheme. But how do you find out about it? How much does it cost? And what are the best products? These questions are answered by Project Twenty21, which is run by the National Institute for Health Research and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
The register is open to anyone who wants to join – including those who have already received a prescription for medical cannabis. So far, over 2,300 people have signed up. They receive regular emails telling them about the latest developments in research into medical cannabis.
They can also see information about the drugs they are prescribed and their progress, and they can ask questions. As well as being able to track their progress, the register allows researchers to collect anonymized data on the types of cannabis used and the outcomes for different conditions.
So far, the register has seen some positive results. For example, there have been significant improvements in pain relief for people suffering from chronic neuropathic pain.
This project is now the largest source of real-world evidence on medical cannabis usage in Britain.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has indicated that there is no convincing evidence for recommending the use of medical cannabis to patients suffering from chronic pain. This decision follows similar decisions regarding prescribing opioids. The move came after a review of existing research showed little evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for treating certain conditions. The decision comes despite the fact that many countries around the world allow it to be used as part of treatment.
In response to this, several projects are trying to gather real-world data and clinical-trial data with hopes of convincing clinicians and researchers alike of the therapeutic potential of cannabis.