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Home > So near yet so far: why won’t the UK prescribe medical cannabis?

Nutt, David and Bazire, Steve and Phillips, Laurence D and Schlag, Ann Katrin (2020) So near yet so far: why won’t the UK prescribe medical cannabis? BMJ Open , 10 , e038687..

URL: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/9/e038687

Although cannabis-based products for medicinal use are now legal in the UK, it is still challenging for patients to gain access, and only very few National Health Service prescriptions have been written to date. This paper attempts to make sense of why the UK lags behind so many other countries which also have legalised medical cannabis. From consulting with parents and patients, prescribers, pharmacists and decision-makers it seems that there are a series of distinct barriers to prescribing that need to be overcome in order to improve patient access to medical cannabis in the UK. These include concerns about the perceived lack of scientific evidence. To alleviate these concerns, we highlight the importance of patient-centred approaches including patient-reported outcomes, pharmacoepidemiology and n=1 trials, which can contribute to the development of the evidence base for medical cannabis. We hope that this paper will help policymakers and prescribers understand the challenges to prescribing and so help them develop approaches to overcome the current situation which is detrimental to patients.


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