Medical marijuana is now legal in the UK, but who will get it?

By November 6, 2018Marijuana Laws
Medical marijuana legal in UK

Marijuana, pot, Mary-Jane, grass or weed – the cannabis plant has been given a lot of names, and for the first time, United Kingdom doctors are prescribing it to patients. This has left millions of UK citizens wondering if they are eligible to use cannabis oil or other cannabis related drugs.

While cannabis has not been legalized fully, special doctors, from November 1st, have been allowed to recommend cannabis as a form of treatment. Although, mostly known for its ability to get people high, medical cannabis will solely focus on the plant’s therapeutic properties.

The move was prompted by a case involving Charlotte and her son Billy, who had cannabis oil confiscated at Heathrow Airport as they were returning from Canada. Billy, who was suffering from severe epilepsy and autism, was using cannabis oil to treat his condition. Thanks to the attention the case attracted, Billy was the first person to be allowed to use cannabis oil, setting a precedent in the UK.

What is cannabis oil?

Cannabis oil is a sticky and thick substance derived from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. The substance is ingested; however, it does not get the user intoxicated. Instead, it is known to offer a sense of calmness and relaxation. Officially it is referred to as Cannabidiol (CBD).

According to Cannabis Trades Association, currently, about 250, 000 people use CBD as a form of treatment. Government rules dictate that oil being used in the country should not contain more than 0.05 % THC.

Medical benefits of cannabis

Since marijuana has been classified as an illegal Class B drug, there are few studies that focus entirely on its pros and cons. However, despite the restricted studies relating to cannabis in the UK, nations across the world have ascertained that cannabis can decrease pain, ease seizures, increase appetite, relieve nausea and reduce inflammation. These advantages are handy in treating a number of illnesses for thousands of patients.

Who is eligible for a prescription?

From November 1st, doctors have been recommending and prescribing cannabis as a form of treatment without fear of prosecution. However, who is qualified to use medical cannabis? Certainly, not everyone!

Patients with epilepsy, chronic pain, HIV/AIDs, multiple sclerosis (MS) and cancer are now able to get cannabis oil via a doctor’s prescription. Allowing patients of chronic illnesses such as these, to access treatment via legal means is a great decision made by the UK government officials.

While each patient’s treatment or dosage is based on their individual needs, any person who is qualified to use cannabis oil will now have the option of accessing regular prescription without any hindrances.

Has medical cannabis always been prohibited?

Since time immemorial, cannabis has been used for both medical and recreational purposes. The use of cannabis was first barred in the Dangerous Drug Act in 1928 – that meant all legal production, use, and sale, was brought to a quick halt.

Since this act was enacted, the only use of marijuana in the United Kingdom has been a synthetic version of the plant known as Nabilone, which is used to treat vomiting and nausea. Nabilone is usually associated with chemotherapy.  Since the drug is synthetic, all the compounds that affect the body and bring the feelings linked to recreational use have been gotten rid of – thus allowing its use.

Another cannabis-based drug that is available in the UK is Sativex. It is extracted from the cannabis plant itself and is strictly controlled when treating patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

Is possession of cannabis still unlawful?

While the use of medical cannabis has been decriminalized for patients in the United Kingdom, possession of class B drugs will continue to attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years in jail.

Those found in possession of cannabis oil or drug without a compelling recommendation will be held to account. And according to UK laws, any dealer caught with prohibited substances can face up to fourteen years in jail.


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