Earlier this month, changes to legislation in import regulations were made – enabling medical cannabis patients to receive their prescription within days, not weeks or months.
Up until now, legal restrictions have meant patients have been waiting often several weeks or months at a time to receive their medication, which has been causing unnecessary breaks in treatment regimes, resulting in pain or symptoms of complex needs such as severe epilepsy making more occurrences and disrupting everyday life.
However, the problem still lies in prescribing.
GPs are still unable to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients; partially due to guidelines restricting access to only specialist doctors, but also because many GPs don’t want to register as prescribers. Many UK GPs feel as though there is a lack of funding and guidance – which is true, but only to a certain degree.
Dr Leon Barron, founder of The Primary Care Cannabis Network, said at the Hemp and CBD Expo earlier this month that: “GPs are seen as gate-keepers; we liaise with specialists, engage with them and so on, but we have a limited toolbox – we can’t prescribe medical cannabis yet.”
Which is odd, as GPs are the ones who have a closer relationship with patients, we can make regular adjustments to prescriptions and can issue repeat prescriptions.
We also must consider that cannabis scripts are unlicensed; however it is worth noting that there are many medications which are unlicensed and are heavily prescribed – such as many pediatric drugs. Many have also not been through various control measures, but are still licensed.”
We can see then, why there are so many hesitations for GPs and the Government, when there seems to be so many cross-hairs into the process of prescribing.
Unfortunately, we have to consider the recent NICE guidelines were created by GPs without any medical cannabis training. Also; we’re currently led to believe there isn’t enough evidence in the use, side effects and outcomes of medical cannabis.
Dr Leon says: “There is so much evidence into the history of medical cannabis and how it has been used over the course of hundreds of years. The cannabis plant has over 6000 years of documented history with many different cultures throughout the centuries recognising and utilising its medical properties.”
“Clearly, we need to educate doctors both current and in training; we need to look at current research and we need to provide more support to charities such as Drug Science and Project TWENTY21, who are trying to fight for the future of medical cannabis – by gathering new, improved evidence.”
At The Primary Care Cannabis Network, we are reaching out to and are working with other organisations and societies, so we can educate and advance scientific research.
The aim is to expand the knowledge of cannabis-based medical treatments and focus on academic research, education, key-papers and open discussions.
We focus specifically on the needs of GPs and are creating a community that will enable GPs to confidently work together and speak with specialists to understand the various regulatory pathways that exist within the UK.
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