Jumping through the hoops: how to apply for medicinal cannabis


In his latest vlog, friend of UKCSC Ian Frizell has provided a detailed explanation of the the process of applying for a prescription of medicinal cannabis, a new possibility in the UK after the government announced that some cannabis-derived medicine would be redefined and moved into Schedule 2 so that doctors could prescribe it for their patients.

Ian believes that while this is “a step in the right direction” because the government has been forced to admit publicly that cannabis has medicinal value, “the reality is that it is still going to be nigh on impossible to satisfy the requirements to access medicinal cannabis”.

“When I heard about the procedure that one had to go through to apply, I felt overwhelmed, confused and discouraged from applying, and I’m pretty sure that was the intention.”

However, Ian’s wife convinced him to apply and to share the experience with his vlog watchers.

“I sought out step by step instructions for applying to access cannabis-based medicines, and I am extremely grateful to the United Patients Alliance for letting me have a copy of their draft guidelines prior to publication.

“Firstly, you need to convince your doctor that you need cannabis-based medicine. This is likely to be more difficult than it sounds, unless you have a particularly enlightened doctor. For a start, you are likely to know more about the medicinal properties of cannabis than they do – no official guidelines have been issued to doctors in relation to the application process, and there is no requirement for any training on cannabis or cannabis-derived products. So that’s going to be your job!

“You will need to provide evidence (clear and unbiased observable facts) that a person with your specific condition can benefit from cannabis-derived products, so evidence from any clinical trials, anecdotal examples and case studies will be valuable here.

“The UPA and Families 4 Access recommend compiling a document of all relevant evidence, including web links, where appropriate, which can then be emailed to your doctor for their consideration.

“Once you have convinced your doctor that you are a suitable candidate, then they will have to fill out an application form, and it may be helpful to be present when this is done, because your doctor may need to discuss certain points with you.

“The next step in applying is to decide which medicinal product you are hoping to receive, and where it will be sourced. This is, in all likelihood, another job that you will need to do, because it is fairly likely that your doctor won’t have a clue.

“Your doctor will need to determine how to measure the benefits and outcomes of the treatment, the time frame over which these benefits and outcomes will be predetermined and criteria for withstanding the treatment if or when it is deemed ineffective.

“Cannabis-derived medicines may be prescribed to those with ‘exceptional clinical circumstances’, and an ‘expert panel’ will decide if a patient satisfies the criteria based upon evidence provided by you and your doctor – so your doctor needs to set out the grounds for your exceptional clinical need to your panel.

“Once your doctor submits the application, the expert panel’s secretariat will review it, passing those applications that satisfy the criteria to the expert panel for consideration. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, and it is expected that a decision will be made in a two to four week time frame.

“I intend to ask my doctor to apply for cannabis-based medicine to treat my Parkinson’s Disease symptoms, so firstly I need to book an appointment with him. The waiting list for appointments is currently between four and six weeks, so nothing is going to happen very quickly. I will provide updates as and when there is any progress with (or rejection of) my application. Don’t hold your breath!”

We’ll being you updates of how Ian gets on. Let us know how you get on if you apply.

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