Doctors in the United Kingdom will soon be allowed to prescribe medical cannabis to patients with an exceptional need, according to a New York Times report.
Starting on November 1st, specialist clinicians in England, Wales and Scotland will be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines. General practitioners will not be able to prescribe medical cannabis. Also, a requirement for prescription of cannabis is that there be no existing licensed pharmaceutical product designed to treat the illness.
The policy change was enacted by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
“Having been moved by heartbreaking cases involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis.” — Home Secretary Sajid Javid, via the New York Times
The change was driven by two high-visibility cases where epileptic children were denied the seizure medicine they needed. Those children were given special, temporary licenses to consume cannabis-based medicines while the government reviewed its standing policy on medical cannabis. Now, on a case-by-case basis, others can receive the same medicines.
The office of the Home Secretary was clear, however, that penalties for unauthorized possession or distribution remain in place and will continue to be enforced.