GPs & Medical Cannabis

UK legislation only permits a specialist doctor to initiate a script for a cannabis-based medical product. However, GPs may be expected to continue monitoring and prescribing under a shared-care agreement.

Despite current legislation, we feel GPs are in fact well-placed to oversee the prescribing of cannabis-based medical products for a number of reasons.

GPs tend to be a first point of contact for patients and are often the main doctor involved with overseeing and coordinating medical treatments and managing day to day symptoms. GPs tend to have a deep understanding of complex overlapping chronic illnesses and the quality of life issues facing patients who have exhausted all conventional drug options.

GPs often take on a more holistic approach to care rather than focussing on one system or disease in isolation. They may also be key to managing quality of life issues for patients suffering with debilitating conditions and poorly managed symptoms which have not responded well to more traditional, licensed therapies. 

Cannabis medicines often require an individualised approach to dosing and monitoring and practical point of view, particularly within the NHS, GPs rather than specialists are perhaps better placed for regular follow ups to oversee close monitoring and dosing adjustments.

Cannabis based medical products have been demonstrated to be effective as an alternative or as an add-on treatment for a number of common conditions including:

  • Chronic pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Spasticity in MS

  • Epilepsy

  • Nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy 

  • Anxiety

  • PTSD


Keeping up-to-date with advances in medicine and science is a professional duty and also forms part of the GMC Good Medical Practice Guidelines. Cannabis-based medicines are no exception, as this duty is not limited to single pharmaceutical agents but all evidence-based therapies appropriate to a patient’s care. GP’s need to be further equipped in their understanding of the Endocannabinoid system, especially as more patients become aware of cannabis medicine as a potential option.

Here at the Primary Care Cannabis Network, we want to make it that much easier for GPs to be kept up-to-date; by providing key insights, recent developments and providing a platform for discussion.  

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