Hope For Patients: UK Bill Enabling General Practitioners To Prescribe Medical Marijuana

Draft legislation to allow general medical practitioners (GPs) to prescribe medical marijuana has been published by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC).

The proposal titled Prescription Cannabis (GPs Prescribing) Bill amends section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendments) (Cannabis and Licence Fees) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2018, by adding “general medical practitioners” next to “specialist medical practitioners” as lawful prescribes.

“Given NHS waiting lists have soared to over seven million, allowing GPs to prescribe cannabis medicines is an oven-ready solution to this growing health emergency,” Dr. Sunil Arora, co-chair of the CIC Prescription Cannabis Working Group stated.  

Around one in three adults has chronic pain, and so they will make up a significant number of those in the queue. Cannabis medicines are proven to be effective at managing these conditions.

The bill also defines a general medical practitioner as a doctor included in the register of general medical practitioners kept under section 34C of the Medical Act 1983. While the draft bill has been written as a piece of primary legislation, the CIC notes that its proposal could be also implemented via another legislation if some changes are made.

“The Cannabis Industry Council is publishing this draft Bill to further raise awareness among MPs, and we hope that a bill can be taken forward in the near future,” Arora concluded. 

Ongoing Efforts 

Additionally, the CIC is leading the Protect Our Patients campaign, pushing for this change. In July, it presented a report titled “Why GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis medicines” in the House of Parliament. The document concludes that allowing the change could help reduce UK National Health Service (NHS) waiting lists and lower crime rates.

The report also cites international examples from Australia, Germany and Denmark, where GPs prescribe medical cannabis, resulting in higher prescription rates and reduced stigma. Currently, only specialist medical practitioners are authorized to recommend medical marijuana, leading to limited patient access. The data indicates there are 1,000 prescription marijuana patients on the NHS annually and about 20,000 with prescriptions from private clinics. The report has been sent to the Treasury.

The news about the bill came on the heels of the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) significantly lowering the recommended daily intake of CBD from foods, after reviewing a joint position paper on the matter from the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Process and Committee on Toxicity (COT). Following the issued guidance, FSA now recommends a maximum of 10mg or “about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil” per day, down from 70mg recommended three years ago.

See Also: Weed In Europe: Medical Marijuana In Ukraine, Albania's Hemp, UK Cannabis Study Lacks Diversity

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