Did you know that you may be eligible for a legal prescription of medical cannabis? Plus, the process of getting it is incredibly simple.
Since becoming a legal drug in 2018, cannabis has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of patients for whom must-have pharmaceutical drugs have failed. From generalized anxiety to chronic pain, from cancer symptoms to arthritis, medical cannabis has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for an incredibly wide range of conditions.
But, you will not get this medicine from your GP. Unfortunately, we are still awaiting revisions to the framework that would allow our GPs to provide CBPM (cannabis products). This will be a vital step towards wider access to free prescriptions on the NHS.
READ MORE: Medical cannabis patients are forced into the illicit drug market
However, you can obtain a cannabis prescription from a number of private clinics across the UK, including the only medical cannabis clinic with Scottish regulatory approval, Sapphire Medical Clinics in Stirling.
The idea of private medicine may seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The process of obtaining a cannabis prescription is remarkably simple – from signing up for an online consultation to delivering your chosen oil, flower or formulation right to your doorstep.
The National spoke to Sapphire Medical Clinics Head of Research and Access, Dr Simon Erridge, Honorary Clinical Research Fellow and physician at Imperial College London, to find out exactly what to expect from the first cannabis clinic in Scotland.
Do I need a referral for a medical cannabis prescription?
“Patients can refer for free via our website or, if they prefer, they can speak to their GP or specialist consultant and ask for a referral,” says Erridge.
“After this initial contact, we will request a summary of medical care and our triage team will assess whether the patient is a suitable candidate. They should have already tried the first-line drugs suggested by their GP or consultant. Assuming the patient meets the criteria, we can then book them for a full consultation within 24-48 hours.
What happens during the consultation?
“Appointments typically take place via telemedicine (online via video link), but patients have the option of coming to our clinic for a face-to-face consultation if they prefer,” Erridge explains.
“By booking appointments online, we are able to access specialist clinicians across the country, while ensuring patient convenience.
“About a third of people who inquire will go to see a consultant, as a very detailed assessment is carried out before consultations to avoid any unnecessary cost to patients who are not suitable candidates at the moment. We recognize that it is difficult for many people pay for private drugs, so we always want to make sure they’re in the right place before anything else.
Will I need tests before getting my prescription?
“As current guidelines state that patients must have tried other medications before getting a cannabis prescription, most people we see are quite advanced in their treatment journey.
“For this reason, we ask very little of our patients – most of them have already undergone extensive tests, scans and blood work. Occasionally we may ask a small minority of patients for additional routine blood tests before offering a prescription, but this is rarely a barrier. This is really to ensure safety when it comes to drug interactions.
What happens after the consultation?
“Once the patient has been seen by a specialist, their needs are discussed in a multidisciplinary meeting with a range of experts, including specialists in psychiatry and neurology, to discuss the patient’s nuances and take a final decision,” Erridge said. .
“If it is decided that the patient is a good candidate for medical cannabis, a prescription is made. This is then sent to a specialized pharmacy. Although most of our patients use ‘CBPM Access’, patients are free to choose their preferred specialist pharmacy.
“Due to controlled drug regulations, the prescription must be on paper. This is couriered to the pharmacy, who assembles it and sends it directly to the patient.
Will you need to speak to my GP?
“You can either provide us with your medical records yourself, or we can contact your GP for them,” says Erridge.
“Either way, we need to have a direct line of contact with the patient’s GP so we can communicate the new treatment plan to him and he can adjust other medications accordingly.”
What if my GP disapproves of medical cannabis?
Erridge says: “If your GP is against medical cannabis, that shouldn’t be a problem. We always communicate what we are doing with the GP, but ultimately you have full rights to your own summary of care records and can self-refer without your GP being on your side.
“Some GPs are very supportive of medical cannabis, others are still steeped in the strong stigma around it, but most just want to be on the sidelines of their patients and realize that as part of the NHS they are not in We have found that when a patient has a good experience with us, their GP is more likely to reach out and make recommendations on behalf of other patients as well. facilitates the decision of general practitioners.
Will I get follow-up consultations?
“Once you’ve received your prescription, assuming everything goes well, we offer a follow-up consultation after one month and then every three months thereafter,” says Erridge.
“In addition, 92% of patients benefit from the ‘Sapphire Access Scheme’ (a subsidized program) and through this they receive regular quality of life questions and questionnaires about their experience. You can see your own progress on your private patient portal.
How much will my cannabis prescription cost?
“Patients on the Sapphire Access Scheme pay £50 per appointment and although this varies depending on the prescription, a chronic pain patient would pay an average of £135 per month including appointment and medication .”
Who is eligible for a medical cannabis prescription?
Erridge states, “Patients with chronic pain (such as non-cancer pain, cancer pain, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, EDS, chronic regional pain syndrome) represent just over 60% of those we let’s see. About 10-15% of patients come to us with generalized anxiety, and a wide range of other conditions make up the rest. »
– You can view a full list of eligible conditions by visiting www.sapphireclinics.com/conditions/
Ruby Deevoy is a freelance journalist and content writer and founder of CBD Consultancy