The first bulk shipment of legal medical cannabis has arrived in the UK. This means that patients who have obtained their cannabis prescription no longer have to wait a long time for their medication.
The shipment of 800 grams of medical cannabis was shipped from the Netherlands and cleared UK customs last week. It ended months of frustration for patients who have been prescribed medical cannabis but could not find a pharmacy who supplies it.
Patients, doctors, and caregivers who believe that medical cannabis offers relief from a list of conditions including epilepsy, chronic pain, and cancer, are saying that this latest development is a major breakthrough. The shipment marks the end of months of legal and procedural deadlock.
According to Henry Fisher of Grow Biotech, which is the cannabis company that imported the medical cannabis, the shipment is the first example of a real supply route that’s been created. He said that up until this point, there have only been small-sized individual imports.
With a genuine supply route, patients can now get their prescriptions fulfilled without waiting for a month to get their medication imported.
The cannabis supplier
The cannabis shipped from the Netherlands contains the psychoactive chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which also contributes to the drug’s medicinal effects, especially for those who suffer from extreme epileptic seizures. It was produced by Dutch biotech firm Bedrocan under strict pharmaceutical and manufacturing standards in secure facilities.
The shipment is stored at a pharmacy in an undisclosed location. The drug will be delivered to patients through their local pharmacy or by licensed courier to their home.
The cannabis will cost around £700 ($902) per private patient per month per ounce.
Very few have obtained prescription
Although medical cannabis was legalized in the UK in November, patients have been complaining about it still being impossible for them to get a prescription from specialists. Many doctors are not willing to prescribe cannabis due to all the restrictions placed by the government.
There are those who said that individual prescriptions have been given by private doctors to an unknown number of patients and that some of these patients have managed to import a limited private supply.
Yet according to a report by the Daily Mail, only six patients have been able to obtain a medical cannabis prescription since it was legalized a few months ago. And the news report cited a professor as saying that these patients are all on private prescriptions.
Mike Barnes, honorary professor of neurological rehabilitation at Newcastle University, described the situation as appalling. The legalization, he said, has had no impact on people’s health due to the lack of education of the medical community. He also blamed the overcautious guidelines of the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Association, which prevented NHS doctors from prescribing medical cannabis.
Despite the change in law, the British Paediatric Neurology Association’s guidelines still do not recommend the prescription of cannabis containing THC.