Approaching a GP or health expert can be daunting enough for some patients; but when they want to discuss CBD and the potential benefits it could have on their health, it can be even more daunting.

Unfortunately, CBD is one area in which healthcare professionals may not be able to provide answers or give confidence to their patients. As UK healthcare professionals suffer from a lack of training surrounding medical cannabis and its effects, it can leave many fearful of further discussing the subject with their patients.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t assist with painting a positive picture around CBD and other cannabis-based medicines.


Medical education in the UK

Although a growing number of doctors and other healthcare professionals around the UK are beginning to understand more about medical cannabis and support the movement to make the medicine more available to patients, there is still a huge problem within the system.

Currently, no trials on CBD and cannabis-based medicines are carried out by the UK. Although information is available from clinical trials across the world, the UK Government heavily prefers UK-based trials and results. This leads to a lack of training within the healthcare industry, and therefore a huge lack of confidence around the subject.

Although medical cannabis was legalised in November 2018, only 3-people have been issued with a prescription by the NHS. Why? NICE - the National Institute of Care and Excellence - produced guidelines on the use of CBD, but unfortunately, large sections of the guidance were not that information. Naturally, this resulted in doctors being hesitant to carry on their medical cannabis education, or to write a prescription.


Fair access to medical cannabis

While there is a call for fair access to medical cannabis for patients; should we also be calling for fair access to medical cannabis education for healthcare professionals? For instance; if education is added to the curriculum within medical school, could this see a rise in doctors qualified to prescribe?

Dr Mala Mawkin, Head of Market Development at Cellen Health and Advisory Board Member at PLEA told Health Europa: “Even though doctors have been able to prescribe Cannabis-based medicinal products since 2018, healthcare professionals are still not equipped with the knowledge and tools to prescribe in the UK.

“We have made huge progress to be able to have pharmaceutical-grade THC/CBD medicines for patients that are cheaper and safer than the illicit market. The next steps are to invest in research, medical education and address the stigma faced by patients.”1

The UK Review of Medicinal Cannabis - published earlier in 2020 by the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group - a high number of medical students reported they received no teachings on the role of the Endocannabinoid System within the human body. The report also examined five cannabis-related topics within UK universities, and almost half provided no teachings within those areas. Review the report here.


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References

  1. Health Europa (2020) Medical Cannabis Awareness Week: calls for NHS prescriptions, Available at: https://www.healtheuropa.eu/medical-cannabis-aware... (Accessed: 22nd November 2020).