Cannabis-based medication: an interim desktop guide

Following the relaxation of laws governing access to cannabis for medicinal use in November 2018, the Royal College of GPs has published a desktop guide which provides practical information to help GPs hold informed discussions and support patients to make decisions around the drug.

Because there is limited clinical evidence on the use of cannabis-based products and cannabis-derived medicines, including long-term use and efficacy, the Cannabis-based medicines: an interim desktop guide [PDF] helps by outlining the key issues to consider when discussing cannabis with patients.

The Government has restricted prescribing cannabis-based products for medicinal use to clinicians listed on the Specialist Registrar of the General Medical Council. The products have been moved to Schedule 2 and can be prescribed, legally possessed and supplied by pharmacists and doctors. They are prescribed by a specialised doctor, provided approval is granted by the Trust Drug and Therapeutic Chair or the Trust Medical Director. It is important for GPs to understand the issues surrounding cannabis use.

Cannabis is Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001, which means that an individual in possession of cannabis can be sentenced for up to five years in prison or be issued an unlimited fine. Two forms of cannabis-based products, Sativex and Nabilone, can be legally prescribed. Cannabidiol (CBD) is also legally available as herbal supplement and not a medicine.

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