Only 87 prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines have been applied for since the law change last November, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said in response to a Freedom of Information request from UKCSC.
With the NHS confirming last week that ONLY THREE patients are now receiving an NHS prescription for cannabis-based medicinal products, this means only 84 patients so far have been able to gain access by taking the private route.
In November 2018 Sajid Javid made the groundbreaking decision to allow cannabis based medical products on prescription via a special prescriptions process. This came after Victoria Atkins MP, the drugs minister, refused to accept that cannabis had any benefit despite her husband being the CEO of British Sugar which, grows government-licenced cannabis for GW Pharmaceuticals.
After the NHS confirmed it had handed out only three prescriptions, we wondered what the overall number is. All special medicines have to be notified to the MHRA, so that’s who we asked.
MHRA told UKCSC via a Freedom of Information request, which was answered quite promptly, that 87 specialists have put in an application on behalf of their patients for a cannabis-based medicinal product, which is either a tincture or cannabis flowers. On average this works out at about four patients receiving medicine per week since November.
UKCSC members have experienced blanket rejection when approaching their specialist consultants for cannabis medicine, with some still trying to convince patients cannabis is a placebo.
Some clinics are even preempting patient requests by putting up signs to tell people not to waste their breath, as we reported on earlier this year.
Patients have therefore had to look at finding a private specialist who is willing to write a prescription for a £200-250 appointment fee. The cannabis products then cost around £700 a month, which will get you roughly one ounce. The majority of the cost of the product is actually added on by the importers and the pharmacy that dispense it.
While this may seem like a “step in the right direction”, as many cannabis business campaigners are cheering, the people saying this aren’t exactly rooting to also save our NHS – they are making a profit out of its lack of willingness to do the right thing.
This is a slippery slope into further privatisation of health in the UK, forcing people to pay extortionate rates for cannabis, as already happens under prohibition. The companies producing cannabis in other countries are well used to operating where there isn’t a free health service like we have in the UK.
This week there has been news of further private cannabis clinics opening in the UK. The clinics say that the move will help provide faster access. We spoke to Pr Mike Barnes last week who confirmed to us that it will take 8 weeks for a prescription to land. This is only fast when you consider that you can grow a short flowering indica cannabis plant (good for pain and sleep issues) during the same amount of time – and it would only cost you £300, including the equipment.
Meanwhile, caregivers who are growing cannabis for patients that are unable to grow their own or afford a £900 down payment for their first month’s legal medicine and potentially hundreds a month thereafter. These people risk their freedom to make sure other humans are not suffering while the prices are too high.