EducationHow to get a private cannabis prescription in the UK

How to get a private cannabis prescription in the UK

13 min read

Sam North

How to get a private cannabis prescription in the UK


Medical cannabis is a treatment option that, up until pretty recently, the wider UK public may have not known was available. But, thanks to shifting attitudes globally regarding this fascinating and therapeutic plan, the UK government saw fit to pass legislation making it legal to access for those who need it.

This was back in November 2018, and the change to the law opened up a new chapter for many patients who required access to medical cannabis. And although the NHS is still extremely restrictive regarding the kind of medical conditions it will allow to be treated with cannabis, with only patients suffering from MS, cancer treatment related nausea, and two forms of rare epilepsy being able to access it on prescription – the private sector is much more accommodating.

Private clinics have the autonomy to be more flexible in their approach, and although they abide by the same laws as the NHS, they can prescribe medical cannabis for a much wider range of conditions.

In this comprehensive article, we will guide you through everything you need to know before embarking on your medical cannabis journey. This includes the potential conditions that may qualify for a private cannabis prescription, a detailed step-by-step guide on how to obtain a private cannabis prescription in the UK, insights into the risks and benefits associated with medical cannabis, and an estimation of the associated costs. We aim to provide you with a clear and informative guide that allows you to make informed decisions regarding your medical cannabis treatment, and whether it is right for you.

Are you eligible for a private cannabis prescription?

As mentioned above, the private sector can prescribe medical cannabis for a much wider range of health issues than the NHS. There is actually no definitive list of conditions and symptoms that may qualify, as it is up to the discretion of the individual clinician.

However, the Home Office has listed a range of conditions that have been known to respond well to medical cannabis, and up until the time of writing, prescriptions have been written for the following conditions: 

  • Depression: a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and a lack of motivation.
  • Anxiety: a condition marked by persistent worry, fear, and apprehension.
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder): a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event, causing flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
  • Stress: a physiological and psychological response to demanding situations, often leading to feelings of pressure or tension.
  • Eating disorders: a range of conditions involving abnormal or disturbed eating habits, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
  • Sleep disorders: a group of conditions that affect the quality, timing, and amount of sleep, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): a mental health disorder characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event, causing flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
  • Migraines: recurring headaches characterized by intense, throbbing pain, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Traumatic brain injury: damage to the brain caused by an external force, resulting in cognitive, physical, or emotional impairment.
  • Epilepsy: a neurological disorder characterized by recurring seizures caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
  • Alzheimer's disease symptoms: a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior, eventually leading to a loss of independence.
  • Parkinson's disease symptoms: a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
  • Motor neuron disease: a group of progressive neurological disorders that damage nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement.
  • Muscular dystrophy symptoms: a group of genetic disorders characterized by progressive muscle weakness and wasting.
  • Multiple sclerosis: a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, causing a range of physical and cognitive symptoms.
  • Spasticity: a condition characterized by muscle stiffness and tightness, often resulting from damage to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy: common side effects of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, often managed with antiemetic medications.
  • Cancer pain: pain experienced by individuals with cancer, caused by tumors pressing on nerves, treatment side effects, or other factors.
  • Chronic Pain: persistent pain that lasts for an extended period, often affecting physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
  • Fibromyalgia: a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties.
  • Arthritis: inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
  • Degenerative disc disease: a condition characterized by the breakdown of intervertebral discs in the spine, leading to pain and reduced mobility.
  • Spinal cord injury/disease: damage to the spinal cord, resulting in loss of function, paralysis, or impaired sensation.
  • Nerve conditions: various conditions affecting the peripheral nerves, such as neuropathy, neuropathic pain, or nerve compression syndromes.
  • Post-operative surgery pain: pain experienced after a surgical procedure, requiring appropriate pain management strategies.
  • Lower back pain: pain or discomfort in the lower back region, often caused by muscle strain, injury, or degenerative conditions.
  • Arthritic pain: pain and inflammation in the joints, commonly associated with arthritis.
  • Neuropathic pain: chronic pain caused by damage or dysfunction in the nervous system, often described as shooting, burning, or electric-like sensations.
  • Migraine or cluster headaches: severe headaches characterized by intense pain, usually on one side of the head, often accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Neurodevelopmental conditions: a group of disorders affecting brain development and function, such as autism, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.

If you suffer from any of the above-listed conditions, you are potentially eligible for a prescription.

How to get a private cannabis prescription in the UK

The exact steps involved in getting a medical cannabis prescription will depend on the clinic you visit. To find out precisely what to expect, you should visit your clinic of choice’s website or contact them directly. 

However, below is a rough guide of the process:

Choose a clinic

Only doctors who are registered with the General Medical Councils Specialist Register are legally authorised to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK. This means that GPs are generally not allowed to prescribe medical cannabis. All private clinics that offer medical cannabis services must have at least one registered specialist.

Each clinic will have its own approach to medical cannabis and the conditions it is prescribed for. Some things to keep in mind are whether the clinic that you are interested in offers online consultation services, what cannabis-based medical products they offer their patients and if they provide medical cannabis cards to further protect them if they are stopped and questioned by the police.

Fill in an eligibility assessment 

As mentioned above, when you first visit or contact your clinic of choice, they will ask you to fill in a free eligibility questionnaire. The purpose of this is to examine your medical history and determine your suitability for a cannabis prescription. You may be able to do this via a virtual appointment if travelling to the clinic is difficult for you. 

It may feel daunting completing an eligibility assessment, but it is unlikely that you would be turned away at this stage unless you have a history of psychosis or if you’re taking other medications that may interact with cannabis. 

To finish your assessment, clinics will also require a copy of your Summary of Care records. This can be obtained from your GP.

Arrange a consultation 

If the clinic decides you’re a suitable candidate for a cannabis prescription, they’ll go ahead and book you in for a consultation with a specialist doctor. These can often be booked online or over the phone. 

In your consultation, you can expect to be asked a range of questions, including details about your condition, your expectations regarding medical cannabis, and whether you have any questions or concerns. Make sure you answer all questions honestly and in as much detail as you can.

At this stage, if the doctor feels you are eligible, they will write you out a prescription. They will also discuss with you your dosage and the different administration methods. 

Have your prescription filled and delivered

Once you’ve received your prescription, you can pop by the pharmacy to pick up your medical cannabis. Note that it must be processed by an appropriate pharmacy, as not all chemists carry it. Your doctor will probably recommend a particular pharmacy to you and, while this may be easier, you are not obligated to visit that particular one if it’s not convenient for you. Instead, you can visit any pharmacy which dispenses medical cannabis products in the UK.

Most clinics will also have a pharmacy that is affiliated with them, with some clinics streamlining the entire process by filling your prescription on the spot and delivering the medication to your doorstep. Releaf offers this service to all of our patients.

Follow-up consultation

The final step is to book a follow-up consultation with your doctor. This is to discuss how you’re getting on and how medical cannabis is improving your symptoms. It’s also necessary as doctors are only able to issue one prescription per month, so you need to speak with the prescribing doctor to get another prescription – if, of course, you want to continue with the medication. 

At this stage, your doctor may decide to adjust the dosage or the product they prescribe you. 

Cost of a private cannabis prescription

A consultation price with a private clinic can range from £50-£100.

As for the medication itself, costs vary widely depending on the strength and type of cannabis product prescribed. For example, an oral tincture may cost around £70, while dried cannabis flower can cost anywhere from £8-£20 per gram.

The cost of medical cannabis will depend on your prescription, but it is recommended to discuss any potential financial concerns with your clinical team prior to receiving a prescription.

The potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis


Your doctor will discuss the potential benefits and side effects of taking cannabis medicinally. The specific benefits that will apply to your unique circumstances will be different depending on the condition you suffer from.  Here are some of the most common ones:

Generally speaking, medical cannabis can help to improve a range of conditions, including chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, poor appetite, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been shown to help with sleep disturbances and chronic inflammation, and it can also reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.

It is essential to understand that medical cannabis should never be viewed as a miracle cure. Likewise, it is best applied in a medical setting as a complementary form of treatment alongside traditional medications and therapies. While it has helped many people control the symptoms related to their conditions, it is important to remember that every person’s body and health are different and cannabis may not be suitable for everyone. 


As with all medications, there are potential side effects of taking medical cannabis. This is why it is critical to work carefully with your doctor and to follow their advice on dosage and administration.

  • There is the potential for dependence, especially when taking high percentage THC products
  • Can cause drowsiness and dizziness 
  • Can increase heart rate and lead to arrhythmia
  • Can lead to memory problems, particularly in young people 
  • Can impair judgement and coordination, which can lead to accidents or injury
  • High percentage THC products can lead to an increase in anxiety and panic attacks. This is not an issue with CBD products


Cannabis prescriptions are becoming increasingly accessible for a wide range of health conditions through private clinics in the UK. From chronic pain management to alleviating symptoms of epilepsy, medical cannabis has shown promising potential in providing relief. If you are experiencing an eligible health issue and are considering medical cannabis as an option, it is significant to have an open and thorough discussion with your doctor to understand both the potential benefits and risks associated with it. Together, you can determine if you are a suitable candidate for a cannabis prescription, tailored to address your specific needs.

Releaf understands that embarking on your medical cannabis journey can be a little 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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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.

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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