Graphic: reads #CannabisForMS and shows illustration of Sativex spray and molecular structure for cannabis

Cannabis for medicinal use is legalised but access is restricted

The Government has today changed the law to make cannabis for medicinal use legal under prescription. But it's likely that nothing will change in the short term for the one in 10 people with MS who could get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medicinal cannabis.

We’re calling for the interim guidance on prescribing medicinal cannabis to be urgently reviewed so that access to the treatment isn’t so heavily restricted.

How cannabis will be prescribed

Specialist doctors, like neurologists, can now prescribe cannabis for medicinal use but only once other treatments are tried. GPs are not able to prescribe but they could refer you to a specialist in some cases.

NHS England has said that very few people are likely to get a prescription.

Why the guidelines need to be reviewed

What happens next?

We’re speaking to clinicians to understand more about what this means for people with MS. We'll publish more detailed information as soon as it's available.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have started consulting on the long term guidelines for who should be able to access medicinal cannabis. This is not expected to be completed until next October 2019.

We’ll be working to make sure people with MS are involved in this process and the evidence for cannabis for medicinal use is properly reflected in guidance.

Clear benefits of medicinal cannabis for MS

Responding to the news, our Director of External Affairs, Genevieve Edwards said:

“While we’re pleased the Government moved quickly to change the law, the guidance published appears to ignore the clear evidence provided by the Chief Medical Officer. For this change to have a real impact, everyone who could benefit must be given access in a safe, responsible and fair way, with specialist doctors properly supported to make decisions around prescribing.

We’re calling on NHS England to re-visit this guidance urgently and engage with neurological experts at the earliest opportunity to ensure people with MS are not left disappointed and unable to access cannabis treatments”