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Fitness & Health

01st Nov 2018

Medicinal cannabis is now legal on prescription

Patients in the United Kingdom can now be prescribed medicinal cannabis from today, if it is agreed by a specialist doctor

Reuben Pinder

A campaign from the mother of an epileptic boy has caused the change

Patients in the United Kingdom can now be prescribed medicinal cannabis on the condition that a specialist doctor agrees that it is necessary.

Doctors can now prescribe products containing cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinol if they think it’s the most appropriate treatment for their patient’s condition.

This news comes after a tiresome campaign from parents including Charlotte Caldwell, whose son Billy suffers from severe epilepsy.

Caldwell travelled to Canada to obtain the cannabis oil she says helps to control her son’s seizures, but was not allowed to bring it home to the UK.

Her persistent fight to keep hold of it prompted a policy review from home secretary Sajid Javid, who oversaw this change in policy after receiving advice from experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser.

“For me what started off as a journey which was about the needs of my little boy actually turned into something, proved to be something, a lot bigger. It proved to be the needs of a nation,” Charlotte told Sky News.

“Medicinal cannabis gave me back my right as a mummy to hope, but the most important thing medicinal cannabis has done is given Billy back his right to life.”

Currently, only specialists on the General Medical Council Register will be able to prescribe any cannabis-based medicine, not GPs. However, there is no limit to what conditions it can be prescribed for.

“I think we’re being quite cautious in saying it can only be prescribed by consultants and that’s probably a good idea in the first instance,” Dr. Saoirse O’Sullivan, an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, says.

“But there’s a lot of people who aren’t under consultant care that won’t now have access. Two of the main reasons people use cannabis is for anxiety and depression, and they’re not likely to be under consultant care.

“They’re more likely just to be seeing their GP, and GPs won’t be able to prescribe cannabis based products. So I think there’s going to be a lot of disappointed people.”

Sajid Javid has insisted that this is not a first step towards legalising the drug for recreational use.