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Cannabis, MS and the law

In November 2018, the UK Government made cannabis for medicinal use legal. This means that specialist doctors, like neurologists, are able to prescribe cannabis for medicinal use to some people with MS. Other treatment options have to be explored first.

What the change in the law means

Despite the law changing, cannabis as a medicine is no easier to get than it was before. The exception is the cannabis-based drug Sativex, used to treat muscle spasms and stiffness (spasticity). 

In late 2019 Sativex was approved for use on the NHS to people in England with ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ spasticity when other treatments haven’t worked. The same happened in Northern Ireland in 2021. Sativex has been available like this in Wales since 2014. We hope it’ll also be approved in Scotland soon.

Getting treatments on the NHS doesn’t just depend on a recommendation from NICE or from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (which makes these decisions in Scotland). It might still be difficult to get because the NHS in some regions might not agree to pay for it, or local prescribers decide not to give it to people. 

Find out about our campaign to improve access to Sativex and read our 2021 Approved but Denied Sativex report

Possessing, producing and supplying cannabis

Cannabis is a class-B drug in the UK. Possessing, producing and supplying it are against the law. ‘Supply’ includes sharing the drug with someone or giving it (even for free) to friends or relatives.

The law doesn’t allow you to use the fact you were using cannabis to help with your MS symptoms as a defence.

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