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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DISCLAIMER:  All views are those of The Primary Care Cannabis Network. Information on this site is written for the purpose of general education. Information is not specific to any specific medical case and should not be taken to provide a diagnosis or treatment. This material should not be reproduced without the specific permission of the The Primary Care Cannabis Network. The opinions expressed here are of our society and do not necessarily represent the views of any other institutions of which members are affiliated with. The Primary Care Cannabis Network takes no responsibility for any actions taken by individuals in response to the information given here.