UK Is World’s Largest Producer Of Medical Cannabis But Brits Can’t Access It
It may come as a shock that the United Kingdom is the biggest producer of medical cannabis, because what you may already be aware of is that almost none of us here can actually access it.
A new report was released by the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board declaring the UK to be the single largest producer of medical and scientific cannabis, but in an ironic twist it also revealed that we are severely lacking when it comes to prescribing the drug, as a vast majority is exported elsewhere.
Surprisingly, the UK has tripled its production from 96 tonnes in 2016 to an incredible 320 tonnes in 2019, making it the clear leader that accounts for around 75% of of the total worldwide, according to Left Foot Forward.
Even though the UK saw an alteration in the law back in November of 2018 that made medical cannabis legal, it’s not become easier to obtain; after the drug was previously downgraded to a class C drug in 2004 but bumped back up to B in 2009.
Despite the incredible amount made over here, campaigners were forced to beg the UK government to allow prescriptions to be more accessible, after strict regulators had denied any prescription for it over the past two years.
A study, headed by former government adviser Prof David Nutt and a collective of other researchers found those in need of the drug were struggling to obtain it, creating a two-tier access system that forced those in need to take out pricey private prescriptions.
‘Only very few National Health Service prescriptions have been written to date… the UK lags behind so many other countries which also have legalised medical cannabis,’ the findings said.
‘From consulting with parents and patients, prescribers, pharmacists and decision-makers it seems that there are a series of distinct barriers to prescribing that need to be overcome in order to improve patient access to medical cannabis in the UK,’ Nutt and his colleagues suggested.
At present, there are only two UK-based medicines with it: Sativex, which in spray form treats multiple sclerosis and Epidiolex, an oral solution for those suffering with two rare types of epilepsy. Both are considered a last resort, meaning obtaining them is difficult.
The problems arise when it was discovered that 1.4 million people had been forced to source the drug illegally in order to help a medical condition, leading to criticism of the government.
Transform’s CEO, Jane Slater, said: ‘If the data from the UN’s drug control board is accurate, then the UK government has serious questions to answer from 1.4 million people relying on the criminal market to self-medicate with cannabis.’
She stated it was the government that needs to step up and offer assistance to the vulnerable people who were being ignored: ‘The government owes it to the 1.4 million forced to rely on the criminal market, to provide a safe and regulated supply of cannabis for their medical needs.’
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care has since offered a statement, saying it was concerned with those in need: ‘We sympathise with every patient and every family courageously confronting life with hard to treat conditions.
They went on to say they had the patient’s ‘best interests’ at heart, before offering to look into the matter: ‘We will consider what further action the government could take with regard to broader access to unlicensed cannabis-based products.’
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