Could You Be Eligible For Medical Cannabis? (UK)

I’m still quite shocked that medical cannabis is legal in the UK. 

I’m even more shocked by the range of high-quality THC-rich flower and oils available on prescription, the fact that it’s actually quite easy to access, and that society hasn’t crumbled as a result – (yes, that last point is sarcastic). 

However, despite being legal since 2018, lots of people still don’t realise that they may be eligible for medical cannabis in the UK.

Which is why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide, with the help of leading medical cannabis clinic Releaf, to see if you qualify for medical cannabis.   

How medical cannabis works in the UK

In the UK, cannabis (including THC-rich flower, oils and vapes) can now be prescribed as a medicine since the law changed in 2018. 

However, only specialist doctors who are registered with the General Medical Council and have expertise in certain medical conditions can legally prescribe Cannabis Based Medicinal Products (CBMPs).

General practitioners (GPs) are not allowed to prescribe CBMPs directly, but they can recommend patients to see a specialist privately if they believe it would benefit them.

Before specialist doctors can prescribe cannabis products, patients must meet specific criteria set by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to satisfy the requirements of the Home Office. 

Currently, NICE hasn’t authorised NHS specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis products unless the patient’s condition is extremely severe, and they meet certain criteria eg. chemotherapy-induced nausea, muscle spasms, epilepsy.

Because of this an estimated 40,000 patients in the UK go to private healthcare clinics for medical cannabis treatment plans.

Are you eligible for medical cannabis?

In the UK, private clinics and dispensaries can prescribe cannabis products for many conditions. 

Specialist doctors can prescribe privately if…

  • they believe it’s best for the patient
  • the patient has a qualifying medical condition diagnosed by a licensed professional
  • and if the patient has tried at least two other medications without success

What conditions qualify for medical cannabis in the UK?

Medical cannabis in the UK can be prescribed for a surprising number of conditions. They include…

  • Anorexia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma 
  • Autism 
  • Back Problems 
  • Cancer 
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Depression 
  • Diverticulitis 
  • Dystonia 
  • Epilepsy / Seizure management 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Frozen Shoulder 
  • Gout
  • Migraines
  • Menopause 
  • Neuropathic pain 
  • Neuropathies 
  • Palliative care
  • Parkinson’s 
  • Disease 
  • Polymyalgia 
  • Rheumatica 
  • PTSD 
  • Rheumatoid 
  • Arthritis 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Spasticity
  • Tremors

What conditions don’t qualify for medical cannabis in the UK?

Some conditions cannot currently be prescribed cannabis medicines by specialist doctors, especially those related to psychiatric disorders. 

This is because there’s evidence indicating that THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, can exacerbate these conditions. 

Therefore, prescribing cannabis medicines might not be advisable for patients with:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Bipolar disorder

This list isn’t exhaustive, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your mental health diagnosis before considering a change in treatment.

How easy is it to get medical cannabis in the UK?

If you have a qualifying condition and have tried at least two other medications without success, then getting medical cannabis in the UK is a pretty straightforward process. 

The first step is to contact a private medical cannabis clinic and see if you are eligible. You can do that with Releaf here.

You will be able to book a consultation with one of their specialist doctors who will assess your clinical needs and work with you to create a suitable treatment plan.

With Releaf, this costs £99 and they have a money-back guarantee – automatically refunding the fee if a prescription cannot be provided.

You can then choose whether you want your prescription as a monthly subscription or whether to use the pay-as-you-go model. Releaf have their own in-house pharmacy and dispense and post your medication, usually with next-day delivery.

How much is medical cannabis in the UK?

Prices can vary between different clinics, and the figures provided here are general estimates.

For your first consultation, expect to pay anywhere from £50 to £250 or more. Many clinics offer a complimentary or refundable pre-consultation to determine if they can provide the treatment you need.

Follow-up appointments typically range from £50 to £150 or more. Clinics, along with Project Twenty21 participants, usually require follow-ups every three months.

The cost of repeat prescriptions can be between £0 and £50.

Medication expenses are separate and approximately as follows:

– £5 to £14 per gram of cannabis flower

– £3 to £24 per millilitre of oil 

– £75 to £85 per 0.5 millilitres of THC concentrate (for vape cartridges).

Releaf offers two payment plans

For £39.99 per month, patients can get medical cannabis flower starting from just £7.99 per gram, medical cannabis oil from £4.99 per ml, free follow-up consultations, free repeat prescription, free medication postage, a medical cannabis card, and a Releaf Treatment Starter Box (valued at £100).

Their second option, pay-as-you-go, offers medical cannabis flower starting from £9.99 per gram, £99.99 for each consultation, £19.99 per repeat prescription, and £4.99 for medication postage.

Can you get medical cannabis on the NHS?

Getting medical cannabis in the UK can be tough, although not impossible.

In early 2021, NHS data showed just 18 prescriptions for unlicensed cannabis products in England between March and June 2020.

Usually, NHS treatment with cannabis is reserved for the following conditions:

  • rare epilepsy
  • chemotherapy nausea
  • specific multiple sclerosis-related muscle stiffness. 

Therefore, for most, getting a prescription means going to a private clinic.

Can you get medical cannabis for mental health conditions?

Yes, you can qualify for a medical cannabis prescription if you have a diagnosed mental health condition, including depression, anxiety, autism and PTSD. 

You will need to have tried two therapies, and have a specialist doctor confirm that cannabis could benefit you. 

When did the UK legalise medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK on November 1st  2018, after the cases of two epileptic children who benefited from using cannabis brought increased public attention to the issue.

On this date, an update (Statutory Instrument No. 1055, section 4) to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 moved cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. 

This recognised its potential medical benefits, allowing doctors on the Specialist Register to prescribe Cannabis-Based Medicinal Products (CBMPs) for certain conditions within their specialty as a last resort.

Final thoughts

While medical cannabis has been available in the UK since 2018, many people remain unaware. 

With a wide range of qualifying conditions and a straightforward process, getting a medical cannabis prescription is easier than most think.

To find out if you qualify, consider reaching out to Releaf, a leading medical cannabis clinic here in the UK. 

Their specialist doctors can assess your needs and guide you through a personalised treatment plan. 

Click here to see if you qualify for medical cannabis in the UK.

🌿 Sign up below for UK Cannabis Weekly – where over 17K canna-curious readers enjoy a 5-minute weekly dose of the latest UK weed news, reviews and insider tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *