The UK Has Lifted Medical Cannabis Import Restrictions

New changes to import restrictions will allow the UK to expedite its process of receiving medical cannabis orders.

The UK's medicinal cannabis industry has been making slow but continuous progress ever since the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2018. As of recently, the UK government has approved a new change to import restrictions this ensures patients receive prescriptions and treatments without any delays.

In the past, patients would have had to wait up to three months for their prescriptions to arrive. This is mostly because the medication is imported from countries such as Canada and the USA.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "I have taken swift action to allow specialist doctors to issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicinal products when they consider their patients would benefit from this treatment.

"This will allow patients and their families with challenging conditions to access them more easily, when appropriate, to ensure they can be treated in days, not months."

With the new changes instituted, licenced wholesalers can now import larger volumes of cannabis products as well as hold supplies for future use by patients that hold the correct prescriptions. This will ensure prescription holders will have backups in case anything were to go wrong.

These new measures have been successfully put into action on March 2nd by the Home Office and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

This accompanies changes to the law implemented in October 2018 allowing specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products for approved patients undergoing treatment. Patients will have their prescriptions checked every 30 days by doctors. This ensures that no addictions have been formed and the patient is still in need of the product.

Room for more changes in the medicinal cannabis industry?

The UK's Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has said: "Every time I meet the families of young people dealing so bravely with childhood epilepsy, I am reminded of just how much they have been through."

"The changes made today are a tremendous step towards improving the supply of cannabis-based medicinal products by helping to ensure quicker and more reliable access for patients."

While this is true, there is still much work to be done to make cannabis an option for all seeking treatment.

In November 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) officially recommended two cannabis-based medicinal products for patients with multiple sclerosis and severe cases of epilepsy. While this benefits a small number of patients there is still a large percentage of illnesses that are overlooked. 

"We still have a long way to go. We need more research into the quality and safety of these medicines, and to do all we can to cut down the costs and remove barriers so that, when appropriate, patients can access it, including on the NHS."

The Finer Details

The Department of Health and Social Care states that they will continue to work closely with NHS England-NHS Improvement and the National Institute of Health Research to establish clinical trials in order to strengthen evidence to support further licensing arrangements.

Matt Hancock, and senior officials at DHSC have met with officials from Centre for Medical Cannabis to review the finer details of the current plan.

Dr Andy Yates, Pharmacy Lead, at the Centre for Medical Cannabis, said: "It's crucial as we build the evidence required to realise the potential of cannabis-based medicinal products that there are no unnecessary impediments to accessing prescriptions."

"We are grateful that the government has listened to the valid concerns expressed by our members and responded with measures that will immediately improve access to these novel medicines and accelerate clinical understanding of their use."

With this new act in place, customers and doctors will soon be able to assess the efficiency of the plan. It is still too early to tell whether this act will improve the lives of patients or not, but all signs are pointing to yes.

The UK cannabis market could be on the verge of a multi-billion-pound boom

While the majority of cannabis sold in the UK still comes from the black market, things are rapidly beginning to change.

In fact, a 2016 UN report found that the UK accounted for approximately 45% of global cannabis production, while also being responsible for 70% of the worldwide export market.

However, the UK industry is still in its infancy, which has left investors starved for British pot stocks to add to their portfolio.

And with Prohibition Partners predicting the industry could reach $3 billion in size by 2024, this is one investment opportunity you don't want to miss.

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Niki Mohazeb
Niki Mohazeb

Niki is a Sydney based writer, with a passion for promoting the health benefits of medicinal cannabis. Niki also enjoys researching and writing about the future of cannabis along with the many other benefits that the plant provides, such as the diverse utilities of hemp.

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