A draft bill which would enable GPs to prescribe cannabis medicines in the UK has been published by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), in an attempt to improve patient access to cannabis.
In the bill, the CIC propose that the most straightforward process would be to make three simple amendments to section 4 of The Misuse of Drugs (Amendments) (Cannabis and Licence Fees) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2018.
The amendments would incorporate ‘general medical practitioners’ alongside ‘specialist medical practitioners’ as lawful prescribers of cannabis, as well as defining who constitutes a GP. The draft Bill has been written as a piece of primary legislation.
However, the intended outcomes of the draft Bill could potentially also be implemented via secondary legislation (as a statutory instrument), if certain changes are made to the text.
The bill is supported by an Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt, which has now been signed by over a dozen MPs from multiple political parties. Early Day Motions are used by MPs in the House Of Commons to draw attention to a particular issue, event or campaign.
Dr Sunil Arora, Co-Chair of the CIC Prescription Cannabis Working Group, commented: “Given NHS waiting lists have soared to over seven million, allowing GPs to prescribe cannabis medicines is an oven-ready solution to this growing health emergency.
“Around one in three adults has chronic pain, and so they will make up a significant number of those in the queue. Cannabis medicines are proven to be effective at managing these conditions.
“The Cannabis Industry Council is publishing this draft Bill to further raise awareness among MPs, and we hope that a bill can be taken forward in the near future.”
The proposed bill is part of a wider campaign by the CIC. ‘Protect our Patients’ aims to improve the way patients can access cannabis through the NHS. Back in July, the CIC launched a report entitled ‘Why GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis medicines’ in the Houses of Parliament.
The report looked at examples from countries such as Australia, Germany and Denmark, where GPs are able to prescribe. The report found improved patient access and outcomes in these jurisdictions, including a higher proportion of prescriptions from the elderly and women.
The report also found that allowing GPs to prescribe medical cannabis could drive down NHS waiting lists, reduce opioid dependency, and cut crime.