Volteface Podcast – August 2022: Medical Cannabis in the UK: what’s wrong? And how do we fix it?

Volteface Director Paul North and Head of Operations Katya Kowalski tackle one of the most commonly discussed topics in the UK …


  1. Great discussion with some interesting takeaways. Regarding cost, I agree it has reduced and this should improve further with domestic production (hopefully, although Liz Truss blocking Bermuda policy for medical cannabis isn't a great start for us with the new government changes!), but it is still a HUGE issue for many. For the most vulnerable that do not have financial security, are unable to work due to disability, where whole families are in a bad situation (especially in the current climate of a strained economy), a £300 bill (similar to mine) is almost impossible. I have reluctantly accepted help from relatives towards this additional cost, as well as having to use PIP money to fund a legally prescribed medicine.

    Many of these patients are paying privately for a better treatment of their symptoms from CBPM's, and for an improved quality of life and are saving the NHS a tonne of money in the process due to patients being able to come off pharmaceuticals (often providing minimal benefit with a lot of potential negative side-effects), and also from less A&E visits, hospital stays, outpatient appointments etc.

    Regarding clinics, they know they are a temporary measure for most NHS patients until cannabis becomes a 1st line option for GP's, and the clinics want this to be a reality so patients to have easier access via NHS in the future without current barriers – there will always be a private avenue for patients who prefer this, but will hopefully be incorporated as a viable medicine for many conditions, as opposed to just having specific cannabis based clinics that exist atm.

    The current NHS cannabis products available are condition specific (Sativex for MS, Epidiolex for epilepsy etc.), whereas in the private clinics it is being prescribed based on treating symptoms (pain, anxiety, sleep issues…); this is probably due to the amount of compounds in the medicine as it is a botanical and not a pharmaceutical – clinicians are used to single/dual compound medicines for specific conditions – again education is needed, and it opens up a whole new area of discussion ofc.

    Thank you for highlighting the debate between aesthetics and therapeutic validity for treating symptoms – this is something that needs more discussion; agreed that there is a a recreational/medical difference here. For patients like myself, a consistent treatment of my symptoms by far outweighs aesthetics – although I do understand that their are patients that have more experience with the plant and have their preferences aesthetically.

    Patients should have SAFE access to this medication via clinicians/GP's, and we need education to defeat stigma that exists around the word 'cannabis' for both patients and clinicians in the UK – agreed that existing companies/organisations in the industry should collaborate to make this happen (along with patient groups), but this needs to be done without ego, towards mutually agreed goals that benefits all (joint education based around cannabis as a valid medicine, on the endocannabinoid system and on awareness of UK legality/availability should benefit all for example – come on people!).

    Unless we come up with a new medical term for 'cannabis', I doubt we can avoid the word, we just need to re-educate.

    Hope this makes some sense! I think I have generally agreed with all you have discussed really, but it needs to be talked about.

  2. Joe Bloggs gets sick, he goes to his doctor, if doctors recommended a private medical cannabis prescription it would be used more, accepted more, talked about more etc – I think doctors, nurses and specialists are the starting point – which brings us back to the NHS. If/when the government and NHS accept the real world evidence then the market will expand.

  3. Great topic: the NHS is approving very few NHS prescriptions for cannabis meds, and the types of cannabis meds available from the NHS seem extremely limited. The private cannabis prescription ioption n the UK is also full of problems: 1. very complicated, time-consuming, and expensive to get the prescription; 2. very few products available (only vape, oil, or capsule, and only in a few strengths and formulations); 3. very hard time getting a monthly refill on time; 4. very very expensive (nearly £300 per month, a large percentage of which would seem to be profit).

    Any chance of a transcript of this video?

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