Reported in today’s Guardian – yet another child, five-year-old Indie-Rose Clarry, has had her medical cannabis seized by border guards at Stansted. Although Indie-Rose has a private prescription for the medicine written by her UK doctor to help control her Dravet syndrome, it is still far cheaper for her parents to go to the Netherlands to buy her supplies. Obtaining an official import license would cost £4,500 a month; buying it direct in the Netherlands costs £1,500 a month – and up till now they have been allowed to bring it back to the the UK without problems.
In April Emma Appleby, mother of another child with severe epilepsy, also had her supplies seized – a report here.
Despite the fact that using medical cannabis, which include the psychoactive ingredient THC, has been legal since last November, it appears that only two NHS prescriptions have so far been given. A result of the draconian guidance given by Royal College of Physicians, the British Paediatric Neurology Association and NHS England – see my post in October. In response to appeals from desperate parents Matt Hancock who remains, possibly frustratingly, health secretary in Boris Johnson’s new cabinet, said that that ‘he understood the frustration and pain among families and recognised something has to change, but he conceded practical changes need to be clinician-led’. Which would not suggest that he proposes doing anything much to help even those in desperate need to access cannabis via the NHS.
However, if you can afford it, there are at least now a few private clinics where you should be able to access treatment. They are run by Medical Cannabis Clinics; their clinic director is Professor Mike Barnes (author of our Beginners Guide to Medical Cannabis) who led the original fight to get medical cannabis legalised.
Prof Barnes is also heavily involved in the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society which offers ‘high quality, balanced education and expert support to clinicians about the current state of evidence with regard to the efficacy of cannabis and its side effects and a forum for discussion in order to support clinicians new to this field’ – so at least there is now somewhere for medics to go if they want to access more information about how and when to prescribe medical cannabis.
As of now, if you go to The Beeches clinic in Cheadle in Greater Manchester, assuming that they do agree that cannabis would be an appropriate treatment for you (‘Decisions to prescribe cannabis will be taken on a case-by-case basis, and will only be considered when staff are satisfied that licensed products cannot treat the condition.’) you will pay £200 for an appointment and £600-700 a month for a prescription.
If you would like to get a notification whenever I post a blog, please ‘subscribe’ in the box on the right. It is very easy to ‘unsubscribe’ you if you get bored!