BlogWhat are the qualifying conditions for a UK medical cannabis prescription?

What are the qualifying conditions for a UK medical cannabis prescription?

6 min read

Editorial Team

What are the qualifying conditions for a UK medical cannabis prescription?
In this article we will look at the different medical conditions and routes of access UK patients can legally obtain a medicinal cannabis prescription through. Releaf recently conducted public surveys and published a report with the data titled Say No To Pain revealing 58.5% of the British population are likely to be unaware of the current medical cannabis laws. Patients who could qualify for a medicinal cannabis prescription may still be unaware they are able to access it legally five years after the law was introduced, offering another avenue of pain and symptom relief.


Private cannabis prescriptions

Cannabis can be prescribed as an off-licence medicine in the UK after the government changed the law in 2018. Specialist doctors registered on the General Medical Council with a background in specific medical conditions can legally prescribe Cannabis Based Medicinal Products (CBMP). 

GPs are currently prohibited from prescribing CBMPs but can refer patients to a specialist practising privately if it is their professional opinion they would benefit from one. 

Patients must meet specific requirements set by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to satisfy the Home Office’s requirement before specialist doctors can write prescriptions for cannabis products. NICE has not yet given authorisation to specialist doctors at the National Health Service to write a prescription for patients unless the conditions are very extreme. 

Conditions the NHS will prescribe for are:

  • Severe forms of epilepsy that respond to cannabinoids
  • Vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
  • Muscle stiffness or spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis (MS)

How to qualify for a legal private cannabis prescription

Private medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries in the UK are able to prescribe cannabis products for a wider range of conditions. Specialist doctors can privately prescribe when:

  1. The prescriber believes it is in the best interest of the patient.
  2. The patient is diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a licensed medical or healthcare professional. 
  3. The patient has tried at least two conventional pharmaceutical medications without success.

Patients with conditions commonly prescribed cannabis based medicines are: 

Patients with conditions commonly prescribed cannabis-based medicines are: 

  • Anorexia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma 
  • Autism 
  • Back Problems 
  • Cancer 
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Crohn's disease 
  • Depression 
  • Diverticulitis 
  • Dystonia 
  • Epilepsy / Seizure management 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Frozen Shoulder 
  • Gout
  • Migraines
  • Menopause 
  • Neuropathic pain 
  • Neuropathies 
  • Palliative care
  • Parkinson's 
  • Disease 
  • Polymyalgia 
  • Rheumatica 
  • PTSD 
  • Rheumatoid 
  • Arthritis 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Spasticity
  • Tremors

Conditions that a specialist doctor is unable to prescribe for

There are some conditions that a specialist doctor cannot currently receive prescription prescribe for and these relate mostly to psychiatric disorders. The reason for this is there is strong evidence showing that THC can make the conditions worse with use and therefore, prescribing cannabis medicines may not be in the best interest of the patient. 

  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Bipolar Disorder

This is not an exhaustive list, it’s always best to discuss your mental health diagnosis with your doctor before changing treatments.

How to speak to doctors about cannabis

For patients who have never tried cannabis, there may be uncertainty due to a lack of understanding of the law, the types of medicines available and how to use them. Specialist doctors who prescribe cannabis have an experienced background in specific areas of medicine with training in prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products. 

Patients are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible to understand as much as possible about cannabis as a treatment option. Patients do not have progress with a cannabis prescription if they feel at any point during the half an hour consultation that cannabis medicines are not a suitable option. 

There is a large number of people who qualify for a legal medicinal cannabis prescription in the UK who have already tried cannabis and know it works for their condition. It is encouraged that patients who do have an experience with cannabis share this with their specialist doctor. Strain names, how much cannabis is taken and how often, and the kind of symptom relief patients get can also be helpful information for doctors who will be able to recommend strains suitable for conditions from the options available. 

Do I need a medical cannabis card to be prescribed by a doctor in the UK?

No, you do not need any medical cannabis card to be prescribed cannabis-based products for medicinal use by a doctor in the UK. If you choose to have Releaf as your medical cannabis clinic, you will receive a photo ID card with a digital copy of your prescription history linked to it via a QR code. The UK has a more tightly regulated model of medical cannabis that maintains stricter controls over who can prescribe and produce products, unlike medical marijuana, which is available in the USA. 

Can UK doctors prescribe CBD (cannabidiol)?

Doctors who prescribe medical cannabis products in the UK can prescribe cannabidiol. UK specialist doctors prescribe CBD for inflammation-related conditions but also to help control seizures, spasms and tremors. CBD prescriptions come in the form of flowers or CBD oil tinctures. If you would like a cannabidiol prescription, you must speak to a specialist doctor first. The eligibility check will inform you if you’re suitable for medical cannabinoids.  

Can I get a medical cannabis prescription for autism in the UK?

Yes, as an adult with an autism diagnosis, you may be able to qualify for a medical cannabis prescription. You will need to have tried two therapies to pass the eligibility criteria. 

Can I get a medical cannabis prescription for arthritis in the UK?

Getting a medical cannabis prescription for arthritis in the UK is possible. You will need an official diagnosis for the condition and have tried two medications, therapies or treatments that have failed to provide the symptom relief you need.  

Is medical cannabis legal in the UK?

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since November 1st 2018. Specialist doctors registered on the GMC can prescribe through private clinics. We offer the only all-in-one medical cannabis prescription package, making your journey smooth and easy to understand. 


It is important to remember that every patient's needs are considered individually. Speaking to a specialist doctor who prescribes cannabis-based medicinal products is the best way to find out if one could be prescribed for a specific condition or set of symptoms. Don't let the stigma surrounding medical cannabis prevent you from getting a suitable treatment. Releaf provides tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, all based on your medical cannabis prescription.

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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Editorial Team

Article written by the Releaf Editorial Team, a group of seasoned experts in cannabis healthcare, dedicated to enhancing awareness and accessibility in the field through their wealth of knowledge and experience.

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Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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