BlogBlunt's EDM urges government to grant GPs cannabis prescription rights

Blunt's EDM urges government to grant GPs cannabis prescription rights

10 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

Early Day Motion (ODM)  MP Crispin Blunt, GPs Medical Cannabis
On Monday the 3rd of July an Early Day Motion was submitted by MP Crispin Blunt, calling on the government to allow general practitioners the right to prescribe cannabis-based medications. This motion aims to open up prescription rights to the 36,000 General Practitioners that are currently practising in the UK in the hope of making medical cannabis more accessible. 


Currently, only doctors registered on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register are permitted to prescribe medicinal cannabis or cannabis based treatments in the UK. 

Although there are approximately 40,000 Specialist Doctors featured on this list, it is estimated that only around 100, or 0.25% of those that can, are actively prescribing cannabis based medicines. 

Called by the Conservative Member of Parliament and Chair of the All Parliamentary Party Group on Drug Policy Reform Crispin Blunt, EDM 1410 was tabled on Monday.

The motion, titled ‘Prescribing of cannabis medicines by general medical practitioners’ reads:

“That this house notes that the Government allowed specialist medical practitioners to be able to prescribe cannabis medicines in 2018, but excluded general medical practitioners, despite their core role in supporting patients in their communities.

Further notes that, annually, around 20,000 patients obtain private prescriptions for medical cannabis, but just 1,000 have NHS prescriptions and that there are many more who access the illicit market to obtain cannabis for medical reasons.

And calls on the Government to take the necessary steps to allow general medical practitioners to have the same medical cannabis prescribing rights as specialist medical practitioners.” 

By gathering signatures and submitting these to the government, MPs can register their interest in a certain cause and ask for it to be debated in the House of Commons. 

The primary duty of Members of Parliament is to act in the interests of their nation and their constituents. And so, if you feel it is important for GPs to be given the same prescribing rights as specialists in regard to medical cannabis, you can write to your local MP and ask them to sign the motion in support.

Updates regarding the EDM

🗓️ Update: Wednesday 12th July 

EDM1410 received its tenth signature on the 12th of July from the MP for West Dunbartonshire, Martin Docherty-Hughes. As a politician, Martin Docherty-Hughes has been vocal in his support of medicinal cannabis for several years, even prior to its legalisation in 2018. 

In 2016, the Scottish National Party MP told the press: 

“It’s a disgrace in the 21st century that my constituents, living with chronic pain from conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and avascular necrosis have to choose between suffering and breaking the law. Medical cannabis is controlled to a high standard internationally wherever it is available, and we can do the same thing in the UK…

What we cannot do is allow outdated attitudes to prevail while people are suffering, and I am delighted to pledge my support for the legalisation of cannabis as a treatment option for doctors and their patients.”

Later in the day SNP support for this motion strengthened, with members Deidre Brock and Ronnie Cowan adding their signatures to the EDM. Now supported by 5 SNP representatives, 4 Labour MPs and an individual member of the Conservative Party, The Independents and The Green Party, EDM 1410 is steadily gaining momentum. 

Deidre Brock, the SNP MP for Edinburgh Noth and Leith, was the eleventh MP to sign the motion, agreeing that GPs should be able to prescribe cannabis based treatments in appropriate and eligible circumstances. Brock has previously supported other cannabis related proposals, including the 2021 Private Member’s Bill that sought to rework the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and decriminalise the possession of drugs in small quantities. 

Ronnie Cowan took over a week to sign EDM 1410, which is surprising to some considering his heavy involvement in the medical cannabis industry. As arguably one of the most famous faces in the fight for improved and increased access to medicinal cannabis in the UK, Cowan appears regularly as an expert speaker and industry events and raises awareness of the industries issues in House of Commons debates. 

As the Vice Chair of the Medical Cannabis Under Prescription APPG, and of the Drug Reform APPG, Ronnie Cowan, the MP for Inverclyde, has more recently been turning his attention to the licensing frameworks that surround cannabis in the UK. This year alone he has submitted a number of questions to the Home Secretary regarding the licensing of cannabis-based medicines, and the licensing processes involved in hemp cultivation.

🗓️ Update: Tuesday 11th July 

On Tuesday the 11th of July, Alison Thewliss became the ninth MP, and second member of The Scottish National Party, to sign in support of the Early Day Motion that calls for GPs to have the same prescribing rights as Specialist Doctors regarding cannabis based medicines. 

Alison Thewliss has previously reshared posts on her own social media from patient campaigns like End Our Pain and spoken about the difficulties her constituents have faced when trying to access medical cannabis in parliamentary debates. Thewliss also added her signature to a letter from the End Our Pain organisation addressed to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health, urging them to take immediate action and resolve the accessibility issues to medicinal cannabis back in 2021. 

🗓️ Update: Monday 10th July 

On the 10th of July, Apsana Begum, who is the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse also signed EDM1410.

Aspana Begum has previously shown interest in the prescription of cannabis based medicines, and in November 2021, she issued a question to the Department of Health and Social Care asking the Secretary to establish what criteria the NHS refer to when prescribing cannabis medications to children with epilepsy. Begum also asked if the Department plans on making provisions for families struggling to cannabis based medicines through private medical clinics, to which she received the response:

“The Department does not make provision for the funding of medicines outside of the National Health Service (NHS) commissioning systems. NHS funding decisions follow clearly developed procedures that ensure equitable distribution of funding, prioritising those medicines that have proved their safety, quality, and clinical and cost effectiveness.”

🗓️ Update: Friday 7th July

The MP for Glasgow South West, Chris Stephens, became the seventh Member of Parliament to sign in support of the motion yesterday on the 6th of July 2023. Affiliated with the Scottish National Party, Chris Stephens has previously submitted questions to the Department of Health and Social Care regarding the availability of cannabis-based medicines.

 In 2021, he asked the department what plans they had to increase access to this type of medication for people with multiple sclerosis, to which the Department responded through Jo Churchill. 

Her response explained the Department of Health and Social Care “continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products.”

🗓️ Update: Thursday 6th July

Caroline Lucas became the first Green Party MP to sign EDM 1410, giving it the support of six politicians, which typically become the motion's parliamentary sponsors. 

Caroline Lucas has been vocal in her support for cannabis-based medicines for a number of years and publicly supported the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018. Lucas has been known to share stories of patients like Billy Caldwell on her social media accounts to raise awareness and is a member of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform, chaired by Crispin Blunt.

🗓️ Update: Wednesday 5th July

A third Labour MP, John McDonnell has joined the ranks and signed in support, agreeing General Practitioners should be allowed to prescribe cannabis based medicines in the appropriate or eligible circumstances. Representing Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell is a Labour MP and the former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

🗓️Update: Tuesday 4th July 

One day after the tabling of EDM 1410, three Members of Parliament signed the motion in support. This included Labour MPs Charlotte Nichols and Jon Trickett, and Independent MP Jonathan Edwards. 

Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North, is also a Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Multiple Sclerosis. She revealed to the MS Society in March this year that she was particularly interested in the AAPG planned sessions regarding medical cannabis and has also campaigned for restrictions surrounding psilocybin to be lifted, so it can be used in the treatment of mental health disorders. 

On the other hand, the Labour MP for Hemsworth, Jon Trickett has had a varied voting history in respect to cannabis. Trickett supported the reclassification of cannabis from a Class B drug to a Class C drug in 2003, which later came into effect, however, in 2008 he later voted in support to move cannabis back to the Class B classification.

The Independent MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards has previously supported a number of Parliamentary motions and bills relating to improving the access to cannabis. For example in 2018, Edwards voted in support of the cannabis legalisation and regulation bill, which was outvoted by 14 votes and so, did not come into law. 

Protect Our Patients

It is believed that this EDM was inspired by Protect Our Patients, a campaign launched last month with the same cause at heart. 

Led by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS), Volteface and Maple Tree Consultants, the Protect Our Patients campaign calls for the government to remove the restriction on GPs that prevents them from prescribing cannabis based medicines to patients that could potentially benefit from them. 

Currently, GPs in the UK can refer patients to Specialist consultants or support the prescription of medical cannabis in shared care agreements, but they are not allowed to actually prescribe these medications to their patients themselves. 

The Protect Our Patient campaign emphasises that GPs are the first port of call for the majority of people suffering from a health condition, and they are on the front line facing patients that could therapeutically benefit from receiving these medications on a daily basis. 

An estimated 1.8 million people in the UK are thought to be accessing cannabis through illicit means to self-medicate for a number of reasons. Allowing GPs to prescribe these options would improve access to legal, safe and effective medical cannabis for patients who are eligible for this class of healthcare. 

Professor Mike Barnes, the founder of the CIC and the MCCS, explained: 

The current model for medical cannabis where only consultants can prescribe is simply not working in the interests of the majority of patients. 

We are calling for a meaningful, yet uncontroversial change for GPs to be allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients. This change can be made in a straightforward manner, and we will be setting out details in due course.” 

We also spoke to Mike Morgan-Giles, the CEO of The Cannabis Industry Council, who said: 

“Five years on from medical cannabis being legalised, allowing GPs to prescribe would be a sensible next step.

“The Cannabis Industry Council is running the 'Protect our Patients' campaign to seek to enact this change.

“As part of this, we encourage the cannabis industry to contact your local MP now to urge them to sign this important early day motion.”

To identify and contact your MP, please see here -

Releaf is committed to helping you access the benefits of a medical cannabis service. Our monthly packages are tailored to your cannabis prescription, and we offer specialist consultations for medical cannabis and a unique medical cannabis card for protection. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

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