Cannabis used for medical purposes has been legal in the UK since 1 November 2018.
Doctors can write a prescription for patients experiencing conditions that medical cannabis may help relieve symptoms of, such as anxiety, depression, epilepsy, migraine and neuropathic pain disorders.
Many of the products, which are classed as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, are unlicensed. This means their safety, efficacy, and quality haven’t yet been assessed. These unlicensed cannabis-related medicinal products must be prescribed by a doctor authorised to do so via the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register.
Most medical cannabis prescribing clinics are privately run, although it is possible to get a medical cannabis prescription from the NHS. These tend to be restricted to certain conditions, however, including children and adults with rare and severe forms of epilepsy, people with muscle stiffness and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) and adults suffering nausea from chemotherapy.
The cost of a consultation for medical cannabis treatment varies markedly between clinics, although some clinics, such as Sapphire, offer ‘study’ schemes where the price is reduced. When it comes to cost, flower-based products come in at up to £300 per month, based on 30g of cannabis weed. Oil is a little more expensive.
Currently, around 20 clinics in the UK have been approved to administer cannabis products for health reasons. Some of those eligible include the following:
The first ever cannabis medicinal clinic in the UK, The Sapphire, was founded by Dr Mikael Sodergren, the head of the Imperial College Medical Cannabis Research Group, back in 2019. Around 60 per cent of the patients who attend suffer from chronic pain conditions, and approximately 25 per cent have psychiatric disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress etc. An initial consultation costs £130 or £50 for patients agreeing to record their results for survey purposes.
A branch of the London Pain Clinic is situated in upmarket Harley Street. The London Cannabis Clinic mainly prescribes for patients to help with both short-term and longer-term pain management. Clinic Associate is Dr Attam Singh. An initial consultation at the clinic costs around £299.
An online medicinal cannabis prescribing clinic, doctors at Mamedica see and speak to patients online via a video link. The team prescribe for pain, psychiatry, neurology, palliative care and cancer. The patient must fill out a form to ensure they are eligible for the company’s services. They also have to supply their written medical history. Once diagnosed, the cannabis medication is sent to the patient’s home by post.
Based in Harley Street and run by Pain Consultant Dr Sunny Nayee and Psychiatric consultant Dr Niraj Singh, Integro Medical provides relief for those whose difficulties lie in pain medicine, psychiatry, oncology, women’s health, spinal pain and palliative medicine. A full-time dedicated cannabis practice nurse is available to help patients, answer questions, etc. Two initial video consultations cost £144. Two in-person consultation fees are £390.
Based in Cardiff, Wales and run by consultant psychiatrists Dr Dave Howells and Dr Mathew Hoskins, the clinic focuses on a range of mental health conditions which can be helped with medicinal cannabis. These include substance misuse disorder, ADHD, Dementia, PTSD and anxiety. An initial appointment costs £250, with a follow-up appointment coming to £100.
Based in London’s Ramsgate Street in Hackney, the Cantourage Clinic offers medicinal cannabis for various conditions, such as pain, neurology, gastroenterology, oncology, psychiatry and palliative care. Clinic specialists are Dr Anup Mathew in Psychiatry and Dr Gerard Sinovich for Pain Management. An initial consultation costs £99.
As well as the usual conditions treated by most clinics mentioned in this article, the Cannabis Clinic also treats autism, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions include insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, OCD and agoraphobia. Based in both London and Berkshire, an initial consultation is free.