Twenty months after cannabis-based products for medicinal use were legalised in the UK, attitudes towards using them are still highly sceptical and need to change, according to the authors of an article published in BMJ Open.
The article attempts to make sense of why the UK lags behind so many other countries which also have legalised medical cannabis.
The opinion piece is authored by Prof David Nutt, director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit at Imperial College London; Prof Steve Bazire, Honorary Professor at the School of Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia; Prof Lawrence D Phillips, Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics & Political Science; and Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, Head of Research at DrugScience.
The authors consulted with parents and patients, prescribers, pharmacists and decision-makers and discovered that there seems to be a series of distinct barriers to prescribing cannabis which need to be overcome in order to improve patient access to medical cannabis in the UK.
These include concerns about a perceived lack of scientific evidence, which the authors say is misplaced. They point out that there are over 50 medicines or indications that have been licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration and/or European Medicines Agency between 1999 and 2014 without randomised controlled trial data.
They say they hope that this article will help policymakers and prescribers understand the challenges to prescribing and so help them develop approaches to overcome the current highly unsatisfactory situation.