One month on: medical cannabis is still taboo despite change in law11 Dec 2018
Restrictive guidelines have led many to buy CBD products online, leading to a boom in production with many products going to market without sufficient quality control.
On 1 November, the UK legalised the use of medical cannabis on prescription, but, just over one month on, medical professionals are still reluctant to prescribe the drug and restrictive guidelines have left families in need disappointed and seeking help elsewhere.
The change in legislation has granted accessibility to cannabis-derived medicines for exceptional cases as seen in the high profile stories of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, but despite the new rules being a landmark move for UK medicine, experts argue it's not straightforward as not everyone will be granted a licence.
Under the new regulations, only specialist doctors are able to prescribe medical cannabis and those who want to obtain CBD oil for medical purposes have to apply for a licence under a temporary approval panel. Clinicians wanting to prescribe the drug have to prove exceptional clinical circumstances and need to demonstrate that there is no other lawful medicinal product that meets the specific needs of the patient.
Some 250,000 people currently use the treatment method, a number which has doubled in the last year, according to Cannabis Trades Association UK, but due to limited accessibility those in need are turning to alternative CBD oil products available on the free market.
The explosion in demand has led to huge levels of production with many companies doing so without the attention to detail or understanding required to make a product that is destined for UK consumption.
Henry Vincenty, CEO of organic CBD oil producer, Endoca, comments: “Although the change in legislation is something to celebrate, education about CBD products and the plant are still severely lacking.
“Higher demand for CBD means products which have not been standardised or have not undertaken quality testing are coming to market. What many consumers do not know is that hemp and cannabis plants are bioremediators, meaning they absorb all compounds present in the soil they are grown in - including all pesticides and heavy metals. If not quality tested and produced organically, some products can be harmful to our bodies.”
Research has found that CBD extracts can help with conditions including multiple sclerosis and nausea from cancer treatment, but most notably CBD has made huge strides with the treatment of epilepsy. There are currently 600,000 people in the UK living with epilepsy with approximately 1,000 dying from intense seizures every year. The use of CBD medicine can reduce seizures by around 50%, granting a longer and better-quality life for those affected.
Vincenty continues: “Whilst the change in UK legislation is a step in the right direction, changing the law is only half the battle. Currently there are still children and families suffering needlessly due to the denial of access.”
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