Medical Cannabis - What are the rules?
M.A.J Law Ltd are a specialist team of driving defence solicitors. All our time is spent challenging police and prosecution cases on technical points of law and procedure. Our team have been fighting for clients for over 10 years.
In 2015, the Government created a new offence of drug driving. At the same time, public perception on the use of cannabis began to change. Other countries around the world began to recognise the medicinal benefits of the drug and took steps to legalise it. Despite this, the legal limit for cannabis in this country is zero-tolerance (2 micrograms). 75% of all our drug driving cases relate to cannabis.
We often find ourselves engaged in conversations with clients about the use of cannabis. Some of our clients have successfully secured cannabis prescriptions from doctors, others purchase it online illegally. Please remember that CBD oil purchased online with a THC content greater than 0.2% is illegal.
So what are the rules on medical Cannabis prescriptions in the UK? Do you qualify and how do you get a prescription?
This blog explores some of those questions.
How do I get a Cannabis (Weed) prescription?
Any doctor on the GMC register can prescribe cannabis. This includes a GP, who can prescribe under shared care arrangements (usually with the guidance of a specialist). Cannabis can be prescribed for conditions such as;
- Chronic Pain and neuropathy
- Panic Attacks
The NHS do not routinely prescribe Cannabis due to limited guidance for doctors, so it can be extremely difficult to persuade your GP to issue a prescription. Cannabis is only offered as a last resort treatment, when other front-line medicines have not been effective. Cannabis is more likely to be prescribed if other medications have produced adverse side effects. Adverse side effects include drowsiness, addiction, inability to concentrate, sickness etc... Speak with your GP first and make sure they known of any side-effects you have suffered.
Medical Cannabis Clinics
There are a number of specialist cannabis clinics that will provide further advice about your medical requirements. A quick Google search will provide a range of clinics that offer help with Cannabis prescriptions. Below are some of the most popular clinics in the UK;
How do I get a Cannabis prescription?
The chosen clinic will ask you book a consultation. Consultation fees range from £99 to £300. Before the consultation, it is worth contacting your GP for a referral letter. A GP can refer you to a private practice (or chosen clinic) for specialist treatment. Obtaining a referral letter will help speed-up the process and avoid delays. The clinic will then gain access to your medical records and make a decision as to whether you qualify for medical cannabis treatments.
You are far more likely to get a cannabis prescription in the private sector. At the time of writing, no new cannabis prescriptions have been issued by the NHS in the last 18 months (mostly due to the 'red tape' and practical difficulties). There are three exceptions where cannabis prescriptions are regularly issued. The first is for patients who suffer with multiple sclerosis. The second is childhood epilepsy. The third is for severe nausea and vomiting, usually during chemotherapy.
Can I drive with a Cannabis prescription?
In theory, yes. The only problem is that the legal limit for Cannabis is zero-tolerance. This means it's a trace-level limit. Even half a Cannabis joint the day before could put you over the legal limit. The CPS do not need to prove that you were impaired by the Cannabis or under the influence.
If you are charged with drug driving but have a prescription, you may have a full defence to the allegation. Take a look at Section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 below;
(3)It is a defence for a person (“D”) charged with an offence under this section to show that—
(a)the specified controlled drug had been prescribed or supplied to D for medical or dental purposes,
(b)D took the drug in accordance with any directions given by the person by whom the drug was prescribed or supplied, and with any accompanying instructions (so far as consistent with any such directions) given by the manufacturer or distributor of the drug, and
(c)D's possession of the drug immediately before taking it was not unlawful under section 5(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (restriction of possession of controlled drugs) because of an exemption in regulations made under section 7 of that Act (authorisation of activities otherwise unlawful under foregoing provisions).
Subsection 3 gives you a defence if you are prescribed the drug and taking it inline with medical guidance. Of course, this may not stop the police from arresting you and taking blood, but it would give you a defence in court. It is also advisable to carry around a copy of your Cannabis prescription in your vehicle. This can then be presented to any traffic officer asking questions about drug driving!
M.A.J Law offer free initial advice to anyone charged with a criminal motoring offence. You can call our solicitors direct on 01514228020.
M.A.J Law has no affiliation with any of the clinics listed above.