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How to apply for a medical cannabis prescription in 2022 in the UK

Medical cannabis is still infrequently recommended through the NHS. Other than a few illnesses, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently states that there is insufficient evidence to support NHS prescriptions of cannabis-based medicines. 


In the United Kingdom, the majority of people can only get medical cannabis through a private prescription. A patient must have a qualifying condition and have tried at least two previous prescription drugs or treatments for their condition to be eligible. Medical cannabis treatments are currently only available on a private basis in the United Kingdom since they're not covered by the NHS. The prices for medical cannabis and over-the-counter CBD products can vary substantially depending on the manufacturer, import costs, the THC/CBD ratio, and the type of product – oil, tincture, flower, or spray. To understand what you're paying for and how much you should be paying for it, you must understand what counts in terms of dose and therapeutic ingredients.


Furthermore, the cost of medical cannabis is largely determined by the dose; some conditions require much more quantities of cannabinoids than others. You will also have to pay for your medicine in addition to your consultations and the price varies from pharmacy to pharmacy. THC has traditionally been expensive, and as there’s been little in the way of reporting on the steady decline in it’s cost, many people still have sensationalist media reports circling in their minds about medical cannabis costing tens of thousands per year. 


Some of the conditions that respond favourably to medical cannabis treatments are those that require high doses. So, while the long-term costs of medical cannabis treatments may be prohibitive for some families, the price of THC has largely decreased in recent years, resulting in a decrease in overall costs of medical cannabis treatments.


For those who cannot afford a private cannabis prescription, and for people who are unable to work and raise the funds needed to subsidise their medical needs, a response to this a card scheme called Cancard that has been launched to protect those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes without a prescription from arrest. The scheme still requires patients to prove that they have a condition that has not responded to two prescribed or licensed medicines or treatments, and while the group behind the scheme has worked closely with police forces across the UK, the scheme is by no means a get out of jail free card.


In the United Kingdom, medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a clinician who is on the General Medical Council's Specialist Register. Specialist doctors who want to prescribe and treat patients with cannabis-based medical products must be able to show that they have assurances in place to provide safe and effective care in line with the rules and guidelines.


A private consultation with a specialist doctor from Project Twenty21-approved cannabis facility is the first step in medical cannabis treatment. To register, you must provide a confirmed diagnosis of one or more of the following conditions, which may be a symptom of another condition, such as anxiety disorder, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, Tourette's syndrome, adult epilepsy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to your chosen clinic (not Drug Science).  Though it is not a requirement of Twenty21, certain clinics may require you to have tried two different types of medication or therapies for your diagnosed condition before contemplating medical cannabis. Your chosen clinic will ultimately decide if you match the eligibility requirements. 


Patient-Led Engagement for Access (PLEA) is a non-profit community interest company founded by volunteers to address inequities in access to cannabis-based therapeutic goods in the United Kingdom.


Despite a 2018 schedule change enabling medical cannabis prescriptions, patients continue to face a lot of barriers, including misconception, stigma, and financial constraints, which prevent them from receiving potentially life-saving medicine. PLEA seeks to engage patients, doctors and researchers to reduce barriers to access and speed the integration of cannabis medications into mainstream healthcare, with a focus on harm reduction. Their Patient Working Group informs all we do by ensuring that lived experience is recognised and patient views are heard, amplified and focused as medicinal cannabis access develops. Their vision is for all patients in the United Kingdom to have access to cannabis-based medicinal products that are integrated into mainstream healthcare. PLEA's mission is to advocate for quality of life with medicinal cannabis, allowing patients to access their medicine without the harms of stigma, geographical inconsistencies, and financial barriers which assists patients in navigating our complex healthcare systems.


Clinicians want to learn from patient experiences so that they can fully understand the variety of conditions for which cannabis based medical products (CBMP) improve quality of life because in order to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis, more research is required. PLEA works as a community with patients, clinicians, and researchers to advance access to CBMP by sharing knowledge and experiences. 


The objective is to provide a safe, virtual space with peer-to-peer support to educate, empower, and connect patients; to assist patients in navigating healthcare systems in order to obtain a medicinal cannabis prescription; to collect patient lived experiences through surveys on patient-reported outcomes; to facilitate a Patient Working Group to collaborate with relevant external stakeholders, and to establish an Advisory Board of specialists to ensure information privacy.

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