Time for GPs to prescribe medical cannabis
By Dr Sunil Arora, CIC Co-Chair Prescription Working Group.
Since the Government legalised medical cannabis in 2018, there have been around 1,000 patients annually receiving prescriptions on the NHS, and 20,000 private patients each year. All of these prescriptions are handled by specialist medical practitioners.
However, this current model where only consultants can prescribe is simply not working in the interests of the majority of patients. Despite medical cannabis being legal for five years, there are 1.8 million people in the UK accessing the illicit cannabis market for medical reasons.
While there are a number of factors causing this situation, a key reason is due to general medical practitioners (GPs) not being allowed to prescribe. As a result, the CIC recently launched the Protect our Patients campaign to seek to change the rules so that GPs can support their patients, who they know best.
Real world evidence and clinical trials data shows the efficacy and effectiveness of medical cannabis for managing an array of conditions, as well as improving patient quality of life. Allowing GPs to prescribe medical cannabis would therefore be a meaningful, yet uncontroversial change, which would help expand patient access and improve outcomes.
Additionally, such a change would bring about economic and social benefits, such as reduced crime, increased government revenues, and lower opioid addiction.
Our new report, which looks at the impact of GPs prescribing in other jurisdictions and recommends a way forward for the UK, is therefore very timely. We urge regulators and policymakers to support these modest, but transformative proposals.
The CIC recently launched our new report ‘Why GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis medicines‘. The above text is a reproduction of the report foreword.