In the UK, initial prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use is currently restricted to doctors listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council.
If an individual has exhausted all standard treatment options for a medical condition then their doctor can refer them to a specialist doctor who may approve treatment with medicinal cannabis. An individual can be referred within the NHS or privately. In addition, an individual can seek a consultation directly with a private clinic.
Generally, the process for approval follows these steps:
Step 1 – Patient consults with specialist doctor
Thorough clinical assessment to determine if medicinal cannabis is appropriate for the patient’s condition and individual circumstances.
Step 2 – Doctor provides prescription
The specialist doctor will prescribe a medicinal cannabis product for that individual patient. The doctor may arrange supply with a pharmacy which is convenient for the patient, or the patient may take their prescription to a pharmacy of their choice.
Step 3 – Prescription dispensed from a pharmacy
Pharmacies will only supply the product once the prescription is received. Prescriptions can also be sent and dispensed directly via Customised4Upharmacy (www.customised4upharmacy.co.uk)
Patients may be able to access medicinal cannabis by participating in clinical trials. Clinical trials can be searched for using the National Institute for Health and Research Be Part of Research portal.
Project Twenty21 is a clinical study currently in progress that aims to create the largest body of evidence for the efficacy of medicinal cannabis.
Patients can check their eligibility to participate in Project Twenty21 at: https://drugscience.org.uk/project-twenty21/