In the UK, a coalition of top industry groups, including the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS), Volteface, and Maple Tree Consultants, launched a new campaign that aims to grant general practitioners (GPs) the authority to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients.
Dubbed the ‘Protect our Patients’ campaign, it aims to extend the same prescription rights to GPs that consultants have. “The current model for medical cannabis where only consultants can prescribe is simply not working in the interests of the majority of patients,” said Professor Mike Barnes, who founded both the MCCS and CIC.
However, Barnes believes that this change can be implemented with relative ease, and he plans to provide more information about it in the future. “We urge the industry to unite around this important agenda to protect our patients.”
The campaign is now soliciting backing from other organizations that share their goal of reform.
Hannah Deacon, director, of Maple Tree Consultants, commented: “(…) It is time that medical cannabis is more widely available to those who so badly need it and one way to do this is to allow GPs to initiate prescriptions for their patients. This will also help to remove patients from the criminal market.”
Katya Kowalski, head of operations at Volteface, expressed the organization’s support for the initiative noting that this change could solve one of the most significant barriers to the UK’s medical cannabis system and that cannabis should be viewed as a medicine that can treat various general practice issues such as sleep, anxiety, and pain.
Background: Since the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK in 2018, only around 1,000 NHS patients per year have received prescriptions, compared to 20,000 private patients. This has led to an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK accessing the illegal cannabis market for medical reasons, partly due to GPs not prescribing, per the official announcement.