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BBC cannabis documentary - Cannabis: Prescription or Pot Luck?

Have you watched Cannabis: Prescription or Pot Luck yet? Available for the next year on BBC iPlayer, this documentary by Alastair Fee features Hannah Deacon and Alfie Dingley, cannabis expert Professor David Nutt, Dr David McCormick, a Consultant Paediatrican from Kings College London, and patients including Amanda Lowe and Conor Ryder. In 2018, the law changed to allow specialist consultants to prescribe whole-plant cannabis medication, but as the documentary explains, though it is now legal, it’s not freely available to prescribe on the NHS. With whole plant cannabis not on any NHS Trust list of approved medications, and prescribers and patients are more often than not turned down for a funded prescription. To Hannah, the decision by the government to change the law was merely words: “I think they changed the law to take the wind out of my sails because the campaign was very effective. All of the parents who are now trying to get access for their children’s epilepsy are blocked at every turn. It broke my heart.” With Alfie’s NHS prescription being one of just five in the UK, thousands of patients and families of children with highly complex medical conditions have been left in limbo, forced into accessing treatment through the private sector at high cost or simply going without.

About the BBC cannabis documentary

In the BBC cannabis documentary, Hannah and her family talk about Alfie’s journey with epilepsy and the life-changing experience of whole-plant medical cannabis treatment, which has seen him live seizure-free for over three years. Dr David McCormick, Senior paediatric consultant from King's College Hospital in London, told the BBC ‘it was "disingenuous" of the government to suggest in 2018 that NHS prescribing was ready to take place. “Parents were clamouring at our door, or phoning all the time, as they believed we were able to prescribe and that was not the case. The message went out, 'doctors can now prescribe cannabis products' and that put us in a difficult position because, in truth, we need to apply for that to be approved by NHS England."’ This documentary also highlights the inequality in the current system and the failings of the government and the NHS to provide access to this treatment. It discusses the option for GPs to prescribe cannabis as part of primary care and the perceived lack of evidence for the efficacy of this treatment.

With over 140,000 private prescriptions in the UK, the private sector is the only real choice for patients in the UK - with costs of around £300 for adult patients and up to £1,600 for a six-week supply for children like Alfie requiring very high doses. Watch the documentary on iPlayer now.

Make a difference

Hannah is calling on the NHS to provide unlicensed medicinal cannabis to children in need.

It's time for every child to have a chance at a better life. Sign the petition, Stop Denying Patients Access to Prescribed Medicinal Cannabis on the NHS:

Families of children with epilepsy can find support from the MedCan Family Foundation. Doctors wishing to learn more about medical cannabis prescribing can contact the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society.



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