Many patients celebrated when the UK government announced that doctors could start prescribing medical marijuana come November 1. However, the reality after that date is turning out to be frustrating for many patients as doctors seem reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana.
The first hurdle that patients have to negotiate is to find a specialist doctor who can prescribe medical marijuana for the condition which the patient has. This requirement is different from what happens in other countries where any GP can prescribe medical marijuana after enrolling to participate in the program.
As it is, many specialist doctors approached by patients for a prescription are turning away those patients for a variety of reasons.
Some of the doctors are saying that medical cannabis is just a fad which will pass in no time. They therefore see no need to involve themselves in such a “passing wave”. Such a mentality shows how much needs to be done to inform doctors about the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
Other specialist doctors are refusing to prescribe medical cannabis because those products are an unknown entity which hasn’t been subjected to double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials similar to what other drugs or pharmaceutical products undergo before coming to market.
The doctors fear that they could be held liable in case an adverse effect occurs to a patient for whom that doctor wrote a prescription for medical cannabis.
Such a fear could have been resolved in case appropriate regulations had been passed to control which marijuana products are permitted on the market.
Even patients who don’t go through specialist doctors and opt to apply to the temporary approval panel to get a license for medical cannabis have been met with rejection.
Hannah Deacon is the mother to one of the two boys whose cases generated such a huge public outcry that the government changed the existing law to make medical marijuana legal in the UK. She now works with a cannabis campaign group and has been getting calls from parents whose kids have been denied medical cannabis prescriptions.
A consultant neurologist, Dr. Waqar Rashid, understands the frustration of the patients who want to access medical cannabis. He also appreciates the concerns of the doctors and he has therefore formed a society of medical cannabis clinicians in order to disseminate information about medical cannabis. The group will form the core around which other doctors will be brought on board to prescribe medical cannabis. So far, 60 clinicians have joined that group spearheaded by Dr. Rashid.
The efforts by clinicians like Dr. Rashid and the groups of parents and patients, such as the one Hannah Deacon works with, are the way to go if clarity is to be attained on the way medical cannabis is to be availed to the patients who badly need it. Participants in the cannabis industry, such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures, Inc. (OTC: NUGS) and VIVO Cannabis Inc. (TSX.V: VIVO) (OTCQX: VVCIF) applaud all those who are adding their voice to the calls for medical cannabis to be accessible to everyone who needs it within the UK or elsewhere.
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