Survey: Millions of patients keen to explore potential of cannabis medicines

New legislation regarding medicinal cannabis comes into effect on Thursday
New legislation regarding medicinal cannabis comes into effect on Thursday

More than six million people in the UK plan to ask their doctor about accessing cannabis medicines when they become legal next month, a research group has claimed.

Based on the results of a Populus opinion poll, commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and drug reform think tank Volteface, the CMC said 76% of people would use a cannabis-based medicine if it was prescribed by a doctor.

Earlier this month the home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced he had relaxed the rules on when cannabis products could be given to patients.

The new legislation will take effect across the UK from November 1.

A number of high-profile cases, including young Tyrone epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell, sparked a review into the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

Billy’s mother Charlotte has campaigned to have cannabis-based medicines readily available in Northern Ireland, saying they are essential in helping to control her son’s severe seizures.

The CMC has now forwarded a number of questions to the UK’s Department of Health seeking clarity around how the medicines will be prescribed, including: how will clinicians and patients know which products are to be prescribable and on what date?; will such prescribable products be listed as treatments for specific conditions?; and will clinicians have details of the costs and will local CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) have the information required to cover these costs?

Another question being posed is how long the process will take, from initial GP appointment to actually receiving treatment.

The CMC will produce policy proposals in December setting out a blueprint for medicinal cannabis in the UK.