A draft Bill to enable general medical practitioners (GPs) to prescribe cannabis medicines has been published by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC).
The CIC and its lawyers believe 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, as well as defining who constitutes as 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.
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 CIC is running a campaign called ‘Protect our Patients’ to press for change on this matter. 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 looks at international examples from Australia, Germany and Denmark – where GPs are able to prescribe. The report found improved patient access and outcomes in these jurisdictions, including higher proportion of prescriptions from the elderly and women.
Additionally, the report also concluded that allowing GPs to prescribe medical cannabis can drive down NHS waiting lists, reduce opioid dependency, and cut crime. The report has been sent to the Treasury ahead of the upcoming Autumn Statement.
There are just 1,000 prescription cannabis patients on the NHS each year, and around 20,000 with prescriptions from private clinics.
Over a dozen MPs from across the political spectrum have signed EDM 1410, which calls for GPs to be allowed to prescribe cannabis medicines to their patients.