HomeNewsReport: Medical Cannabis Could Shrink NHS Waiting Lists

Report: Medical Cannabis Could Shrink NHS Waiting Lists

A new report from the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) says allowing more doctors to prescribe medical cannabis could slash NHS waiting lists.

As things currently stand in the UK, patients are unable to have medical cannabis products prescribed by their GP – they must be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor. This has resulted in the number of patients using legally prescribed medicinal cannabis remaining very low.

The CIC has been calling for change, most recently through its “Protect Our Patients” campaign that is lobbying for GPs to have prescribing rights.

In a new report associated with that campaign, the CIC notes NHS waiting lists have now reached 7.4 million. It says the NHS estimates 34% of adults have chronic pain, and many on its waiting lists would be chronic pain patients seeking treatment for their condition. As medical cannabis can be effective in treating chronic pain symptoms – and improve quality of life – its broader use could help drive down waiting lists.

Medical cannabis can also be a cost-effective and safer alternative to opioid drugs for managing symptoms of chronic pain. But for broader use to occur, patients need easier access to prescribing doctors.

“The current model where only consultants can prescribe medical cannabis is simply not working in the interests of the majority of patients or society at large,” said CIC Prescription Cannabis Working Group Co-Chair Dr Sunil Arora. “Allowing GPs to prescribe would expand patient access, reduce NHS waiting lists, and help cut crime.”

How would it reduce crime? The report states it would:

“…reduce interactions with the illicit market, bringing down crime and reducing the revenues generated by criminal gangs.”

The Council states there are around 20,000 private patients and 1,000 NHS patients receiving medical cannabis prescriptions each year. But currently, an estimated 1.8 million people are using cannabis sourced via illicit channels for medical reasons. A 2019 poll indicated approximately 2.8% of the British adult population were sourcing cannabis for medicinal purposes via illicit channels; which would have been up to 1.4 million people at that time.

The full CIC report, titled “Why GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis medicines”, can be viewed here.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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