A new government panel set up to give patients a licence for medicinal cannabis has received almost no applications after the Home Office imposed a fee of £3,655 per patient, according to The Times.
The paper said that fewer than five applications have been received. Patients have condemned the panel as a “farce” and a “gesture” aimed at placating the public and media.
Applicants for a licence, who must be clinicians on the General Medical Council’s specialist register, fill in an 11-page form detailing every drug prescribed to the patient with a “comprehensive” explanation of why he or she is “genuinely clinically exceptional”. The form says “very few” patients will qualify.
For NHS patients, the £3,655 fee is paid by a hospital trust, not the patient. But hospital trusts, like the rest of the NHS, is notoriously underfunded.
The first person granted a licence is Sophia Gibson, 7, from Co Down, who has a severe form of epilepsy.
Lara Smith, a sufferer from chronic pain who travels to Amsterdam for cannabis, told The Times she would not be using the new procedure, which she described as “farcical” and “prohibitive”.
She added: “The cost and complexity is a massive barrier.” The Home Office said it would “urgently review” the fees.