On November 1st 2018 this policy became legislation, a move that many see as a small step in the right direction. This is to be followed up by guidelines, which will bring more clarity to under what circumstances cannabis based products can be prescribed.
Below are some of the key points:
- The regulations continue to prohibit smoking of cannabis and cannabis-based products for medicinal use. (and not for medical use)
- Synthetic cannabis was specifically excluded from this and reserved for further consideration.
- Cannabis based products for medicinal use in humans remain subject to the strict requirements of Schedule 2 to the 2001 Regulations, along with other harmful substances, such as morphine, ketamine and fentanyl.
- In the UK, all cannabis-based products for medicinal use apart from Sativex (listed in Schedule 4) are currently unlicensed medicines (special medicinal products). Due to the limited evidence base and their unlicensed nature, the government has chosen to restrict prescribing of such products to only those clinicians listed on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. This restriction has been set out in regulations.
- To support specialist clinicians’ prescribing decisions, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to produce a clinical guideline on the prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans. This guidance is expected in 2019.