Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in the United Kingdom

Updated on January 31, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

By the fall of 2018, the UK intends to establish medical marijuana laws that will help create an official program for eligible patients. Because the nation has a history of possessing a relatively strict stance on cannabis, the program is not officially established and has yet to accept any patients.

However, the United Kingdom is expected to reform cannabis laws for medical patients in the near future, which will allow individuals with debilitating or chronic conditions the choice to enroll in a medical marijuana treatment plan.

Potential Qualifications for Medical Marijuana in the Country

It is likely that UK lawmakers will only permit medical marijuana use when there is substantial evidence that concludes a patient may find relief when using this substance. This means that only certain conditions will be approved for country’s medical marijuana program.

Although the qualifications for medical cannabis access aren’t officially established, we can predict the UK will authorize similar conditions to those that are approved by other European-based nation. These illnesses and symptoms include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Seizure-inducing disorders
  • Chronic or severe pain

During the fall of 2018, citizens can expect to develop a more thorough understanding of the patient registration process and qualifications as legislators release new bills.

How Will You Become a Medical Marijuana Patient in the UK?

As previously mentioned, the United Kingdom is still the in process of establishing its medical marijuana program. Cannabis is still prohibited in the country — regardless of whether an individual is seeking the substance for recreational or medical use.

Although we’re not sure exactly how the country’s medical marijuana patient registration process will pan out, we can expect the UK government to establish limitations on cannabis use. Because recreational use is still prohibited within the nation and shows no signs of being legalized anytime soon, the medical marijuana program will likely be established in a manner that prevents non-qualified patients from taking advantage of its benefits.

Patients may have to register with the UK Ministry for Health, so government officials can keep tract of the nation’s eligible medical marijuana patients. Once the UK establishes more official cannabis-related laws, patients should consider visiting with a cannabis-friendly doctor to learn more about their available options.

How to Access Medical Marijuana in the UK

Sativex — a spray mixture that consists of CBD and THC products — and low concentrate CBD oils are the only forms of cannabis currently made available to UK-based patients. However, many patients complain that the high prices of purchasing Sativex and the ineffectiveness of low concentrate oils are discouraging and prevent them from enrolling in the treatment plan they deserve.

These issues have prompted national officials to examine their stance on medical marijuana more closely. The impeding changes in legislation will grant eligible patients in the UK the right to access medical cannabis for the first time in nearly a century.

While patients can currently access oils and Sativex from a pharmacy, patients hope that new legal changes will allow them to receive higher concentrate of cannabis from a physician. It is likely that to receive medical marijuana, patients will have to schedule a visit with a certified doctor who will be responsible for determining their eligibility. Then, patients will likely either retrieve their medication from a pharmacy or dispensary location.

Legal Protection for Patients Who Qualify for Medical Marijuana

Because both recreational and medical marijuana are prohibited, any patient in the UK found using, distributing or possessing cannabis risks experiencing a legal consequence.

The second Geneva Convention of 1925, as well as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920 and 1928 posed restrictions on drug use and administration, including cannabis. Since then, these laws have governed marijuana use and continue to put users at risk of experiencing legal repercussions to this day.

However, the upcoming medical marijuana bill is likely to provide protection for marijuana patients. They’ll be able to access their cannabis medication in safe and authorized facilities, allowing them to avoid fines or prison sentences when they adhere to the nation’s laws.

Become a Part of the Change

Do you live in the United Kingdom or plan on visiting this country sometime in the near future and have an interest in enrolling in a medical marijuana treatment plan? If so, you’ll need to remain up-to-date on the latest changes in legislation since the UK’s medical marijuana program is still underway. Learn more about medical marijuana laws and news in the UK — and beyond — by visiting our blog today!

Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in the UK