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Cannabis in focus

Understanding Cannabis

What is medical cannabis and how does it work?

Cannabis has been used by humans as a medicine for thousands of years, but in the last few decades research has enabled a deeper understanding of its applications. As prohibitions have steadily fallen away in line with further exploration and the discovery of safe and effective treatment pathways, we’ve been able to establish the UK’s first comprehensive ecosystem for medical cannabis care and distribution.

Is it legal in the UK?

United Kingdom law currently states that cannabis medicines can be prescribed for patients under the correct circumstances. This has been the case since November 2018, when publicity around the lack of access to effective cannabis medicines for epilpetic children forced a change in policy.


What is the process?

GPs cannot currently simply prescribe for any patient, for any condition. Treatment with cannabis medicines must be initiated by a specialist consultant on the GMC registry and may be continued under shared care by a GP or non-medical prescriber. For children and young people under the care of paediatric services, the initiating prescriber should also be a tertiary paediatric specialist.

After the initial prescription, subsequent prescriptions of cannabis-based medicinal products may be issued by another prescriber as part of a shared care agreement under the direction of the initiating specialist prescriber, if:

  • The person’s clinical condition is stable
  • Shared care is appropriate and in the person’s best interest
  • The other prescriber is confident to make a fully informed prescribing decision about cannabis-based medicinal products.