BlogWhat we need to know before cannabis treatment commences

What we need to know before cannabis treatment commences

10 min read

Sam North

What we need to know before cannabis treatment commences

We want to make your first steps down the road towards better health as smooth as possible. That's why we've put together this straightforward guide to help you understand what we need to know before beginning your medical cannabis treatment.

Contents

Medical cannabis stepped into the legal limelight here in the UK all the way back in 2018, but in 2024, there is still a substantial proportion of the population that just don’t realise that it could be an option for them.

This is slowly changing, with clinics like us here at Releaf offering new hope to patients who simply aren't covered by the NHS for medicinal cannabis treatment. At the time of writing, the NHS only prescribes medical cannabis for people suffering from:

  • two rare forms of epilepsy (Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome)
  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • chronic pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis

Fortunately, prescribing specialists who are working with a private cannabis clinic can legally offer medical cannabis treatment for a far wider range of health conditions. In fact, less than 1% of potentially eligible patients are believed to have successfully secured a prescription for medical cannabis in the UK. We are hoping to change that. 

The most common question we hear from prospective patients is, "What information do I need to provide before I can start medical cannabis treatment?"

We want to make your first steps down the road towards better health as smooth as possible. That's why we've put together this straightforward guide to help you understand what we need to know before beginning your medical cannabis treatment.

Medical cannabis in the UK

Beginning on 1 November 2018, and following decades of campaigning, medical cannabis became a legal reality in the UK. This change allowed doctors on the General Medical Council's Specialist Register to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK, as long as they are confident that the benefits outweighed any potential risks.

This means that while most GPs cannot prescribe medical cannabis, specialists working with private clinics or through the NHS can.

What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis (also sometimes referred to as medical marijuana) refers to the medical administration of cannabis sativa L. plant products or extracts to help relieve symptoms of certain health conditions.

These products are classed as CBPMs (cannabis-based products for medical use) and come in a few different forms.

  • Dried cannabis flower (vaporised)
  • Oils (used by dropping under the tongue or swallowing)
  • Capsules and Edibles (ingested like regular pills)
  • Sprays (applied under the tongue)
  • Topical creams and ointments (localised application)

Unlike recreational weed, medical cannabis is carefully regulated, ensuring consistent dosing and quality control.

These products contain cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) in varying concentrations, which interact with the body's endocannabinoid system to produce therapeutic effects. Some patients will need higher doses of THC, while others may benefit from more CBD. Your specialist will work with you to find the best product and dosage size for your unique health needs.

The role of Releaf

Releaf is one of the leading private medical cannabis clinics in the UK. We offer expert care and guidance to patients suffering from a massive range of health issues and the possibility of a better quality of life through medical cannabis treatment.

We aim to demystify medical cannabis and make it accessible for patients who have tried conventional treatment options but have had little to no success. We understand that the decision to try medical cannabis for the first time can be somewhat intimidating, which is why we are committed to providing authoritative, trustworthy information and offer ongoing support throughout your entire treatment journey.

We also recognise that each patient has individual needs and concerns, which is why we tailor our approach to each patient. Our team of specialists is dedicated to understanding your unique health circumstances.

What information do we need before beginning treatment?

Before commencing medical cannabis treatment, we will need to gather some essential information from you.

Check your medical cannabis eligibility

The very first step is to head over to our eligibility checker. We have created this tool to help both you and us quickly and easily determine if medical cannabis treatment is a viable option for you. This simple 3 question online form allows us to determine if you are eligible for medical cannabis treatment.

The first question is, "What primary condition are you seeking treatment for?". This question comes with a dropdown box, and the list covers 44 of the more common qualifying conditions and includes issues such as arthritis, cancer pain and symptom management, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, sciatica, and migraines. 

Remember, this list is not exhaustive. If you do not see your specific health condition listed, you can still proceed with the eligibility check by simply choosing "other". 

The second question, "Have you been prescribed at least two medications or therapies for your condition?", is equally important. To qualify for medical cannabis, you must have first tried two other treatments that have proven unsuccessful in managing your symptoms.

The final question, "Have you ever been diagnosed with Schizophrenia or Psychosis?", is asked because people with a history of these conditions may not be eligible for medical cannabis treatment. This is due to the potential psychoactive effects of THC that could exacerbate or trigger symptoms in some individuals.

We understand that these questions may bring up sensitive information, but please know that your privacy and confidentiality are of utmost importance to us. This information will only be viewed by our team of specialists, and we are bound by the Data Protection Act to keep your personal information secure.

If your answers reflect that you are potentially eligible, you will be forwarded to a webpage where you can create your free account with Releaf. If there are any issues with your answers, you are not automatically disqualified, but you will need to chat with one of our patient support team members before proceeding.

Create your free account and upload your medical records

For those who have passed this initial check, the next step is to create your free account on our website. This account will allow you to access a comprehensive health questionnaire that must be completed before we can schedule your initial consultation with one of our specialists. At this point, you will also be asked to share your proof of identity and a digital copy of your NHS medical records.

We can request a copy of your medical records from your GP on your behalf, or you can grab them yourself and upload them onto our secure site. If you have seen a specialist about your condition, sharing any consultation notes and reports would also be helpful, as these can provide valuable insight into your medical history.

Fill out our comprehensive health questionnaire

Our health questionnaire covers your medical history in detail, your current health status, any medications you are currently taking, any forms of therapy you are using to help with your health issues, and your previous experience with cannabis.

Once we have received all the information required, it will be reviewed by one of our specialists, before your first consultation.

We understand that this may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but please know that it's all in the interest of your own health and safety. By gathering all this information, we can provide the best possible care and treatment plan for you.

What are the next steps?

At this point, you will have provided us with everything we need to move forward.

But that's not the end of the road.

Before being considered for a prescription, you must have an initial online video consultation with one of our specialists. During this consultation, we will discuss your medical history, current health status, and any concerns or questions you may have about medical cannabis treatment.

Once the specialist has reviewed your information and conducted the consultation, they will decide whether medical cannabis treatment is appropriate for you. 

If so, they will consult with a multi-disciplinary team of specialists and work with you to develop a tailored treatment plan based on your specific needs and medical conditions. Our team will be available to provide ongoing support and guidance throughout your treatment journey. We are here at every step to ensure you feel confident and comfortable with your treatment plan.

How much does the initial consultation cost?

Our initial consultation is priced at £99. This price is in line with the industry standard and reflects the expertise and care provided by our specialist team.

Patients who are found to be ineligible for medical cannabis treatment during their initial consultation, or the subsequent multi-disciplinary meeting, will not be charged.

We believe everyone should have access to the information and resources needed to make informed health decisions without financial barriers.

Frequently asked questions

When will the NHS cover more conditions for medical cannabis treatment?

At this point in time, it doesn't look like the NHS has any immediate plans to expand the list of conditions covered for medical cannabis treatment. However, we are continuously monitoring any updates and changes in regulations, and we are legally allowed to offer prescriptions for all conditions that a specialist deems appropriate for medical cannabis treatment.

Is it possible to receive a medical cannabis prescription through private healthcare?

Private health insurance policies in the UK typically do not include coverage for medical cannabis, although they cover the costs of initial medical cannabis assessments. Most insurance policies cover acute conditions, and medical cannabis is typically taken for chronic conditions where other medication or treatment options have not worked.

Is Releaf available outside of the UK?

A medical cannabis prescription through Releaf is only available to patients in the UK.

The wrap-up

The amount of information you are required to provide before you start medical cannabis treatment may seem like overkill, but it is essential in ensuring your safety and well-being. Our team is dedicated to providing the best possible care and treatment for each individual patient, and gathering this information allows us to do so effectively.

And really, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to fill out the eligibility and health questionnaires and request your medical records. It's a small investment in your health that could lead to life-changing results. 

Releaf understands that embarking on your medical cannabis journey can be overwhelming, and even slightly intimidating – that’s why we offer tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and our unique medical cannabis card to give you the peace of mind that your treatment is protected, 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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Authors

Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

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