July 13, 2023

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

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


Founder of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs, Greg is considered an expert on all things cannabis. Greg campaigned for the medical cannabis laws we now operate under appearing on the BBC, in The Times, Telegraph and has been published in the British Medical Journal.

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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 a criteria 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:

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

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 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 and 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. 


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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