Vapouround magazine ISSUE 21 - Page 101

Royal College of Physicians guidelines state that ‘there is no robust evidence for the use of [Cannabis-Based Products for Medicinal use] in chronic pain and their use is not recommended,’ so doctors are still reluctant to prescribe. In an interview with the Daily Express, Jersey pain specialist Dr Chad Taylor explained that he was ‘duty bound’ to follow professional guidance and not bow to public or political pressure to prescribe cannabis. Dr Taylor said: “The guidance is quite clear … that for chronic, persistent pain that medical cannabis is not recommended. I have no option, I don’t feel, professionally, than to follow that guidance and not prescribe any more new patients with cannabis-based products." Billy Caldwell, the severely epileptic child whose heart-breaking story galvanised the push for reform last summer, was once again refused a prescription and forced to return to Canada where he’d previously obtained his cannabis medicine. Patients prescribed cannabis in the UK can legally import it from abroad but for most it is prohibitively expensive. Carly Barton was prescribed Bedrocan for her fibromyalgia from a private doctor. Dr David McDowell was willing to prescribe after noting the growing body of evidence showing that patients with access to cannabis were able to reduce their opioid consumption. The cost of her medicine? £2,500 for three months. “The product costs six pounds a gram and the rest is import fees, there are lots of small packages and they all get taxed individually,” Ms Barton said in a Facebook video. The rescheduling of cannabis gave hope to millions, yet it is increasingly looking like nothing more than an attempt by the government to deflect public pressure without actually improving access for those who desperately need medical cannabis. Henry Fisher, policy advisor at drug policy consultancy and think tank, Hanway Associates summed up the government’s actions: “Given the backdrop of a very preoccupied and socially conservative government, the legislation is a victory in and of itself.” “But that’s reflected in why they’ve made it very restrictive. They are very wary of allowing too broad an access to patients, and then that leading to broader reforms.” “As of now, no NHS specialist has prescribed cannabis yet, so there is a two- tier system where if you can afford it you can get it privately, and if not, you will be a criminal if you get it from the black market.” Meanwhile, two-year-old Jorja Emerson from Northern Ireland was reportedly the first child to be granted a prescription since medical cannabis was rescheduled but was unable to obtain it as no UK pharmacy had a license to sell it. VM21 | 101