15/16 November 2023
UK-Import restrictions have been changed recently to help ensure people with prescriptions for medicinal cannabis do not have their treatment delayed or interrupted. This information was published on 02 March 2020 by the UK Departments of Health & Social Care and Home Office. According to the UK Departments, "the changes will help patients with conditions such as rare, serious forms of epilepsy or multiple sclerosis".
Licensed wholesalers will now be able to:
Most cannabis-based medicines in UK are imported from foreign countries. Export restrictions mean it can take weeks or months for the drugs to reach the patients in the UK. In Canada, for example, an export certificate can take 4 to 8 weeks.
In addition, safeguards against addiction and the misuse of drugs mean that patients with prescriptions for unlicensed medicines, such as medicinal cannabis, need to have their prescription reviewed every 30 days by specialist doctors. This can lead to delays in treatment if there are also delays to imports.
The new measures will be implemented by the Home Office and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) from 02 March. It follows the law change in October 2018 to allow specialist doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis where clinically appropriate in the UK. The government will also continue to engage with medical associations and patients to build evidence, using trials in the UK to accelerate understanding of how medicinal cannabis can benefit patients.
More information can be found at GOV.UK: Faster access to cannabis-based medicines as import restrictions are changed.