Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

The Truth About Why The NHS Is Refusing to Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis

with 4 comments

The reason it is impossible to get medicinal cannabis prescribed on the NHS is not really about doctors’ clinical judgement. There are a growing number of doctors that do want to prescribe but they are being blocked by NHS bureaucrats and the senior clinicians that are responsible for drafting professional guidelines.

Although they aren’t law, these guidelines are what NHS Trusts rely on when they refuse to provide funding.  And this is a huge problem, not just for people in pain who can’t get a medicine that they know works, but for the fundamental nature of our democracy and government. The NHS medical establishment is defying the will of Parliament. It is through Parliament that we make policy in this country and MPs have decided that medicinal cannabis should be made available.

This decision was made by Parliament based on medical evidence from around the world that millions of people gain great benefit from cannabis. Of course, the potential side effects were considered and will have been compared with the side effects of other medicines, particularly the highly addictive and life-threatening nature of opioids. Although you wouldn’t know it from all the scaremongering, there are no case reports anywhere in the world of patients receiving cannabis under medical supervision coming to any significant harm. There is no doubt that cannabis is safe as a medicine. Those opposed to it, usually with vested financial interests, are trying to second guess and undermine a decision that has already been made, often with spurious claims of harms caused by smoking it in its most potent form as a recreational drug.

It’s time that the medical establishment complied with the law. That doesn’t mean taking instructions from politicians, it means working constructively to deliver what has been decided, not finding excuse after excuse and being as obstructive as possible.

The senior clinicians responsible for drafting the guidelines, from the Royal Colleges and other professional bodies, notably the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA), are the same people who have failed to provide up-to-date medical education on the endocannabinoid system. This is the system through which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects and is now known to be the largest and most fundamental neurotransmitter system in the body. Yet it is barely covered at all in any UK medical school. These same people are also responsible for running and supervising the clinical trials that pharmaceutical companies use to prove the safety and efficacy of their new products. For this they receive very substantial fees and long-running sponsorship for their institutions.  The conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Professor Finbar O’Callaghan of the BPNA has single-handedly obstructed NHS access to cannabis by hundreds of children with epilepsy that conventional treatment does not help. He describes his professional interests as having “particular emphasis on epidemiology and clinical trials“.  If a cannabis-based medicine for paediatric epilepsy was to be trialled, Professor O’Callaghan would very likely be hired for it.  So it’s hardly surprising that he is opposed to any medicine that hasn’t been through a clinical trial!  It’s worth repeating – the conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Vested interests mean many doctors prefer to prescribe unlimited quantities of opioids, benzodiazepines and senior clinicians are more focused on earning fees from clinical trials than looking at evidence that is already available. We have a regulatory system which is designed by pharma, for pharma, administered by ex-pharma employees and cannabis is a threat. When the UK eventually gets a domestic cannabis production industry, prices will plummet and we will have a safe, cheap, palliative medicine that can help with many conditions.

Most of the 1.4 million people in the UK already using medicinal cannabis are still breaking the law.  This is astonishing when you think our Parliament acted two years ago to ensure they didn’t have to!  This is all down to a combination of arrogance and ignorance in the far-too-hallowed halls of our oldest medical institutions. Like it or not, medicinal cannabis is now legal and is going to take its rightful place as a first choice medicine in Britain. Let’s put aside the prejudice, put patients’ interests first and start delivering the enormous benefits it can offer.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Health, Science

Tagged with , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Absolutely agree with Peter who has put it so eloquently. We shouldn’t be afraid of the law when we are trying to look after our own bodies. I wouldn’t say cannabis suits everyone and it isn’t a panacea but if researched properly it could replace many drugs that we have prescribed especially opiates. Cannabis versus chemotherapy for example…I know which my preferred medicine would be.

    Janine Brown

    September 9, 2020 at 9:59 pm

  2. It really does beggar belief that these rassclatts at the BPNA do not have to declare their interests just like polytricksters have to, they work for the government same way, it is only be logical that anyone working for the government in a position of power and or influence should declare their interests.
    But this is obviously not the case, another aspect is how many Doctors work for both the NHS and in private practice, they should not be allowed to have a foot in both camps.
    Another is the supply of goods to the NHS there are lots of people who work for the NHS who have been caught abusing their positions for financial gain.
    More openness and transparency is required for sure.


    September 17, 2020 at 1:59 pm

  3. I have epilepsy where the seizures come completely random. Doctors have been trying for several years with different drug combinations and doses to try and stabilize it a bit. Yet I so far, have been laughed at by 2 separate neurologists when slightly mentioning cannabis.


    September 18, 2020 at 10:06 pm

  4. I was thrown out of my Drs. for asking for medical cannabis. The level of ignorance and brainwashing in the the Medical Profession and the public at large is astounding. Continually stoked with misinformation from the Government. Their information is outdated, lacking in substantive evidence (in fact the contrary exists and is denied or ignored) A hidden agenda to allow the Pharmaceuticals to get their foot in the door.

    Philip Antony Bevington

    November 5, 2020 at 9:16 am

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