Medical Marijuana in the United Kingdom

Updated on October 22, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Recent Legal Updates:

On October 11, 2018, it was announced that doctors in the United Kingdom will be able to prescribe medical cannabis after November 1st. The decision comes in the wake of two publicized cases of juvenile epileptic patients having success with marijuana-based treatments.


In today’s society, both the public and the medical community alike generally view marijuana as a therapeutic substance that can help bring patients a much-needed sense of relief. This growing support is mainly reflected in recent changes in legislation that have legalized medical cannabis in many different nations. However, unlike its global counterparts, the United Kingdom still has some progress to make in forming an established and sanctioned medical marijuana program.

Is a Medical Marijuana Program in the United Kingdom Likely?

Previously, medical marijuana was prohibited in the UK. However, the recent push toward cannabis legalization within the country coupled with the growing national support of the medical community made the imminent legalization seem promising. In October 2018, it was announced that Britain would allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

The country previously had a strict stance on cannabis, making it likely that patients would have to be evaluated by a certified physician before qualifying for medical marijuana authorization.

The History of Medical Marijuana in the UK

Although citizens throughout the United Kingdom’s earlier history used cannabis to treat a variety of ailments, the country officially prohibited marijuana in 1020 with the passing of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. Throughout the 20th and 21st century, many have voiced their discontent with the country’s unyielding stance on cannabis, especially for medical purposes.

In June 2018, backlash surrounding the country’s decision to criminalize marijuana for medical purposes was reignited when Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old child with epilepsy, began experiencing life-threatening seizures when the state confiscated his cannabis oils.

On July 17, 2018, the United Patients Alliance (UPA), an organization seeking to spread awareness about marijuana’s therapeutic properties, officially launched. The UPA’s goal is to provide the nation with compelling evidence of cannabis’s usefulness in the medical realm. Their end goal is to ultimately play a role in ending the country’s medical cannabis prohibition.

Possession and Cultivation Policies

Currently, the United Kingdom’s legislation does not grant citizens the right to grow or possess cannabis — regardless of their medical status. However, this has led many to seek cannabis treatment from potentially safe and unreliable sources. Today, the need for more relaxed marijuana laws for medical patients who require this substance to treat their ailments is even more significant.

Telemedicine Services in the UK

Because the UK is still in the process of establishing its medical marijuana program, it remains unknown whether telemedicine services will be an option for potential patients. However, the ability to bring health care to those with mobility or cost-related issues may be reason enough for national legislators to explore the possibility of telemedicine services for eligible cannabis patients.

Who Will Qualify for Medical Marijuana in the UK?

Although the UK has not officially outlined a list of eligible conditions for its future medical marijuana program, it is likely that cannabis access will be reserved for only those a life-threatening or chronic condition. Recent national support toward the promising effects of cannabis on cancer and epileptic patients indicates these two conditions are likely to be amongst the list of qualifying conditions.

Will You Need a Medical Marijuana Card in the UK?

As a patient, you may be required to register for a medical marijuana card in the UK. This card would serve as a form of legal documentation of your condition, which is crucial since the country’s laws still forbid recreational cannabis use. You will likely need a medical ID card to access your cannabis medication, too.

Facts About Medical Marijuana in the United Kingdom

Although medical marijuana isn’t yet legal in the country, here’s a look at some facts about cannabis in the UK:

  • In the UK, cannabis use became widespread in 1842, when an army surgeon reintroduced the idea of using marijuana to various illnesses, including those producing spasms, seizures, and cramping.
  • Medical marijuana is currently classified as a Class 1 drug, which categorizes it as having no medicinal value

Medical Marijuana Penalties

At the time of writing, carrying or using marijuana is an act punishable by law that carries penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences. The extent of one’s penalty will vary depending on the amount found on their person and their history with the drug. However, many citizens throughout the UK use cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, despite the nation’s current legislation that forbids these acts.

Stay Up-to-Date on the United Kingdom’s Medical Marijuana Laws

The United Kingdom is in the process of forming more relaxed laws for medical marijuana access, meaning it’s vital to stay informed on the latest rules and regulation surrounding cannabis within the nation.

At, we bring you the information you need so that you can remain an informed patient. Read more about the UK’s latest medical marijuana program development by checking out our blog today!

Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in the UK