Guernsey residents will soon be able to legally obtain a medicinal cannabis prescription from a UK doctor due to a change in legislation.
On Friday, August 21 the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s Committee for Health and Social Care (HSC) announced it was ‘actively progressing’ further legislative changes to enable islanders to privately access care through off-island clinics – and for prescribed cannabis products to be lawfully imported.
In June 2019 the Government legalised the prescribing of medical cannabis by specialist doctors based on the island.
But the current arrangements are reliant on doctors feeling able and willing to prescribe products and being appropriately qualified to do so.
Up to now, no local doctors included on the UK Specialist Register have approached HSC with respect to prescribing cannabis-based products.
The change means patients will be able to travel to one of 20 private clinics in the UK to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis and legally import the medication to Guernsey.
Speaking to Cannabis Health, Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform – the UK’s largest drugs policy reform group – explained: “The basis upon which cannabis works is the endocannabinoid system, which we now know is the largest neural transmission network in the body and probably the most fundamental physiological system. Yet it is still not taught in medical schools.
“It’s only doctors who have educated themselves that are in a position to prescribe and many have now gravitated towards the private sector.”
He continued: “Some Guernsey residents have wanted to go through private clinics in the UK but under the current legislation, even if they get a prescription, they can’t legally import the medicine.”
Leaders have said the legislative changes are being ‘progressed as a priority’ and it is hoped they will be made within the next month.
Deputy Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care said: “It’s one thing to make a change in the legal status, which we were pleased to be able to do last year, and another to make medicinal cannabis practically accessible. There are limits in how much we can influence that as a government, as it is rightly a matter for individual doctors to decide what they feel is best for their patients, in line with their professional expertise.
“However, this further change we’re announcing today means Islanders will be able to access UK doctors with experience in this area and, where appropriate, get a legal prescription for cannabis products and access to the products themselves.”
Mr Reynolds said the situation in Guernsey was another example of how ‘unnecessarily complicated and restrictive’ legislation around medical cannabis is.
He welcomed the latest news but insisted there is still a long way to go.
“I applaud the Guernsey government but of course, the longer-term solution to this is to stop treating cannabis like a dangerous pharmaceutical product,” he said.
“It’s good that we have moved on and can now prescribe cannabis, but the level of regulation and control is so absurdly tight.
“We have to recognise that cannabis is safer than virtually all the medicines you buy over the counter in the supermarket. It’s only when we educate our doctors properly we will really begin to understand this.”
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