Cannabis for medicinal use is legalised but access is restricted
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
- We’re concerned that doctors are being discouraged from prescribing medicinal cannabis. Access to cannabis for medicinal use will continue to be difficult and little will change for people with MS.
- Guidance for specialist doctors doesn’t address spasticity in MS – a symptom which cannabis can help alleviate.
- The new guidance does not recommend medicinal cannabis for pain. This is despite clear evidence of benefit, which was highlighted by the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies.
- Patients, charities and health professionals have not been properly consulted, meaning the guidance doesn't reflect the experiences of people with MS and the knowledge of neurological experts.
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”