Lots of people are eligible to medical cannabis in the UK – here’s our short guide.
The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes was legalised in the UK in 2018, amid a wave of publicity concerning specific cases of children with epilepsy.
Although a tiny amount of prescriptions have been given on the NHS for cannabis, it is almost impossible to get one.
The law in the UK does allow private clinics (there are now many available, and its a growing market) to provide cannabis flower, vapes, and oils to individuals.
What conditions qualify for a medical cannabis prescription?
Patients have to first have a diagnosed qualifying condition. Clinics differ in the conditions that they will treat, but some of the main conditions are:
- Chronic Pain
- Cancer Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Back pain
Patients also need to prove that they have tried two other forms of treatment. For example, if you have anxiety, you may have been given diazepam, anti depressants, or had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Proof of these treatments need to be shown in your Medical Care Summary (available from your GP Surgery) and submitted to the private clinic.
Can I get medical cannabis for depression and anxiety?
The information contained in this article shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and you should consult with a qualified medical practitioner.
But in short, yes. Different clinics will specialise in treating different conditions. You’ll need to search around on the internet at the different clinics and check who will treat depression and anxiety. You can find a comprehensive list of clinics in the UK at the Patient Led Engagement for Access website here.
Medical cannabis is not a first line medicine, which means that it needs to be seen as a complementary support, alongside other interventions.
With mental health conditions, there is a risk associated with the use of medical cannabis, and doctors will be careful not to prescribe to people who have serious risk of intense mental illness.
There are however many people in the UK who are using medical cannabis for anxiety, given the wealth of anecdotal and clinical evidence for its effectiveness in helping people manage stress and anxiety. Generally, indica leaning strains are given to people who have anxiety.
Getting cannabis flower on prescription
Some clinics will prescribe oils, but many patients are able to get prescriptions for cannabis flower. The flower will be delivered by a courier or even Royal Mail, once you have been through all the qualifying stages and paid for the prescription.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary, but you’ll need to pay for consultation, prescribing, and for the actual medicine.
Monthly costs range from about £65 to £300. We have written a more comprehensive article on funding for medical cannabis here.