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22 November 2019 / LYPHE GROUPBack to Newsroom

Private doctor warriors: the saviours of medical cannabis

The regulation of medical cannabis has always been confusing, with legislation that varies from country to country. This often leaves physicians unsure about what medical cannabis products can be prescribed by whom for whom, making it easy for doctors to be put off prescribing medical cannabis completely. 

That’s why it’s important for us to acknowledge the doctors who make the more difficult but rewarding choice to prescribe medical cannabis despite the naysayers. These anonymous doctors who rightfully recognise the potential of medicinal cannabis products and persist with educating themselves on prescribing for the benefit of their patients should be recognised personally, but allow us to honour them collectively at least.      

Even without going against the norms of the medical community through medical cannabis prescription, training to become a physician in the UK is an all-consuming and thoroughly draining process. It requires dedication to learning, healing and caring for us all, no matter what. It demands sustained attention to the human form both inside and out, a deep understanding of the way we think and of the pharmacological modulators of the medicines that cure us. And let’s not forget the blood, the gore, the creation of life and, unfortunately, the end of it that must be dealt with. Needless to say, this job isn’t for the faint-hearted. But even with all this, we have the honour of having more than 140,000 of these noble physicians here in the UK. That’s 140,000 physicians who live their lives to help the rest of us get the most out of ours. 

So isn’t it our duty to give more prescription options to these hard-working doctors who give so much to us? You can believe what you want about medical cannabis, but you can’t deny that it’s a medicine that could offer a radical shift for these doctors and their patients across the country. And there’s little to be scared about when it comes to prescribing this substance. It’s a natural medicine, that when delivered professionally, gives benefits to patients where all other drugs and medical pathways have failed. Yet, barely any of us in the U.K. really grasp the true power of this plant and what it can mean for doctors even a year on from medical cannabis being rescheduled from a Schedule 1 drug (perceived by policy makers to have no medical value and a high risk of misuse) to a Schedule 2 substance (where its therapeutic benefit is recognised). 

And we’re lagging behind in this respect. G7 country Canada has known the potential of this medicine for some time, and other western countries including North America (33 States) and European markets (including the most advanced pharmaceutical EU country, Germany) are catching up at a rapid pace. 

Thankfully, there are some of us in the U.K. who grasp the importance of this drug too. Our GMC registered specialist clinicians are at the forefront of the desperately needed wave of change in the U.K, prescribing medical cannabis to patients that rightfully deserve access to it regardless of the impressively rigid and antiquated NICE guidance system that is currently in place.

But, when we look closer, we understand that even NICE aren’t closed off to doctors having a mind of their own, in fact they are very clear about this.

Once NICE guidance is published, health professionals are expected to take it fully into account when exercising their clinical judgement. However, NICE guidance does not override the individual responsibility of health professionals to make appropriate decisions according to the circumstances of the individual patient in consultation with the patient and / or their guardian/carer.

With the value of the drug and the importance of individual choice for doctors taken into account, LYPHE GROUP has spent the best part of a year ahead of the curve educating specialist clinicians in the UK on the subject of medical cannabis. Our specialists are now fully aware of the impact medical cannabis can have on patients’ lives and know the best possible approach to dosing based upon clinical practitioner experience from more mature medical markets around the world. 

So now, finally, almost a year on from the rescheduling in the UK, our doctors are prescribing. They’re prescribing despite operating in an industry that has been limited by a stigma built up over generations of prohibition. They’re prescribing to those who have been treated for a long period of time with no success, giving them a life-changing alternative. They’re prescribing to the terminally ill and they’re prescribing to complex cases so patients can feel like themselves again. In the worst cases they face, they’re prescribing so their patients can, at least, suffer less as they near the end of their lives.

And the results our medical clinicians see with their patients are clear as day. Having a humane approach to medical care is not a new concept. But the approach of our doctors, providing a novel option that helps their patients where all other therapies have failed, unfortunately remains rare in the UK. 

It takes foresight to register the global evidence that has been building on this subject for a number of years, particularly as it doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter R&D model our health sector insists on using as the definitive way to validate the efficacy of medicines. So, we thank our doctors who have gone against the medical status-quo to elicit results that speak volumes. And we thank the patients who, desperate to find a solution that works, found our doctors and discovered that their recommendations, though unconventional, were life-changing. 

So, like our doctors have shown, now is the time to go against the norms of the current medical system. Now is the time to realise the importance of change as numerous patients are calling for access to a medicine that comes with few downsides and many potential positives. We hope that as the benefits of medical cannabis increasingly come to light, our doctors too can emerge from the shadows to be acknowledged as they rightfully deserve. And we hope many more will join them in this revolutionary and life-changing disruption of the norm.