Medical Cannabis Debate

May 20th, 2019

 Today there is a debate in Parliament addressing the fact that not a single NHS prescription has been written for any patient in the UK in the 6 months since medical cannabis was rescheduled.

Officially specialist doctors can prescribe it, but where are they?

The House of Lords criticised the British Government for failing “desperate” patients needing legal access to medical cannabis.

Prescriptions can be obtained privately, but this is too costly for most. Some families break the law and risk a criminal record by smuggling the drugs they need for their children from the Netherlands and there are several publicised cases of children’s life-threatening seizures with epilepsy being dramatically reduced, at a cost of £1500 for the medicines.

Medicinal cannabis is available in several other countries, and Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer stated last summer that there is conclusive evidence that cannabis-based products are effective for certain medical conditions. And yet the guidelines for NHS doctors to prescribe it have been set too high and there appears to be little urgency to provide adequate training.

Personally, I have not been able to get chloroquine prescribed on NHS, despite my oncologist’s belief that it can be remarkably successful in killing cancer cells or delaying their development. Medics risk losing their licence if they prescribe outside the NHS protocol which is very narrow, and only accepts randomised controlled testing as “evidence” of safety and effectiveness. This explains why our survival rates for late stage cancer are the worst in Europe. Other countries are more open to off-label drugs and supplements which are well tolerated and have much evidence of effectiveness in use. But there is no money to be made by pharmaceutical companies out of drugs which they can’t patent.