Some physicians in the United Kingdom will now be able to limitedly prescribe cannabis-based medicinal products to patients with clinical needs that other medicines have failed to meet.
Previously, doctors needed to acquire licenses from the Department of Health in order to be able to stock and prescribe cannabis medicines. Under the new regulations, general practitioners will not be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis but instead registered specialist clinicians will determine who is eligible on a case-by-case basis.
The move to reschedule and regulate medicinal cannabis in the UK comes after high-profile cases such as Billy Caldwell, Alfie Dingley, and Murray Gray illustrated the efficacy of cannabis oil in epileptic patients where conventional medicines have failed.
Authorities confiscated Billy Caldwell’s cannabis oil from his mother Charlotte at Heathrow Airport in June, sparking a wave of public outcry and a successful campaign by Ms. Caldwell to bring about cannabis policy change in the UK.
But even as the new changes go into effect, their apparent shortcomings are quickly being pointed out.
“The British public have been drip fed hope over the past few months. Guidelines didn’t go out until yesterday,“ Murray’s mother Karen told Candid Chronicle. “The BPNA (British Paediatric Neurologists Association) updated their guidelines yesterday to state that THC was still in fact dangerous to a growing brain. They are advising all Paediatric consultants that no THC should be prescribed to children—only Epidiolex.”
Karen said that it was good news for some parents who want to obtain a medicinal cannabis prescription for their child, but the changes offer no options for patients who need to add THC to their existing CBD regimen.
“Also, conventional drugs must be tried first so there is still no choice here,” said Karen. “It’s going to be very difficult to access. As for the adults, their brains are fully developed. We know it helps a huge variety of conditions.”
She said that the law would not change things for the vast majority of people, many of whom self-medicate illegally due to the lack of legal medicinal cannabis options.
“People have been told by their doctors various things from we are not on the specialist register to refusing to discuss medical cannabis.” she said. “Doctors do not know who to refer patients to, that is a major problem. Unfortunately nothing much has changed, when plans should have put in place weeks ago.”
In the newly-released BPNA guidelines, the Association states that they have found no high quality scientific or clinical evidence in humans to confirm that combining THC and CBD increases the efficacy of cannabis-based products for medicinal use.