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Medical marijuana has been legalized in the United Kingdom (UK) since November 2018, which means that many patients there think that they will soon be able to access their medication through the National Health Service (NHS). So far, there have only been 12 NHS prescriptions and fewer than 60 in total.
A recent study by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabinoids (Couch, 2020), which surveyed 1.4 million patients across Canada, revealed that one in five Canadians uses medicinal marijuana for health reasons.
Before 2018, the classification of marijuana under Schedule 1 severely limited scientific research in the United Kingdom, which resulted in a lack of essential knowledge regarding the health effects of medical marijuana.
There has been an extensive change in global policy on medical marijuana, but there is still little definitive evidence surrounding its short- and long-range impact on human well-being.
Despite the recent changes in the law regarding prescription drugs in the United Kingdom, there is still an ongoing debate concerning their use.
Medical marijuana is unusual because its medical use predated the demonstration of its effectiveness in clinical trials, which is usually necessary for the commercialization of modern pharmaceutical drugs.
On the one side, there is strong patient interest in accessing medical marijuana to treat a chronic illness for which there are very limited alternative treatments available.
However, on the other side, there is only a small body of research on whether and how to prescribe medical marijuana for many of these conditions, so we don’t know if it works.
Medical professionals who prescribe cannabis face a wide variety of challenges, including the fact that cannabis remains illegal under federal law.
There are currently no clear and widely accepted guidelines for using medical marijuana. It is important to devise strategies for best practices and make sure that global legislative changes are influenced by neuroscience and public health research.
At present, medical marijuana is available in the United Kingdom (UK) as a last resort, when other licensed medications have failed to provide relief.
A hierarchy of cannabis medicine indications could help us understand where they sit within the current system.
However, this is an extremely difficult task because marijuana is not just one drug but a whole family of drugs. Some people may experience better results from products containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) than others who use products containing high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Therefore, even though the effects of a single marijuana product may not be statistically significant in a clinical trial, analyzing different combinations of “marijuana” products could be statistically significant.