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Ask the expert: How do I talk to my doctor about medical cannabis?

Cannabis Health experts share their advice for broaching the topic with your doctor. 



Ask the expert: How do I talk to my doctor about medical cannabis?

Cannabis Health experts share their advice for broaching the topic of medical cannabis with your doctor. 

Whether cannabis is something you are already using to manage your symptoms, or you have heard it might help and want to find out more, broaching the topic of medical cannabis with your GP or specialist doctor can be daunting. 

Here, experts from the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, Hannah Deacon and Professor Mike Barnes, who helped secure the first legal prescription of cannabis in the UK, share their advice.

Q: How do I talk to my doctor about accessing medical cannabis?

Hannah Deacon

If you’re a parent of a child with epilepsy, start by going to the Medcan Support website [] and learning as much as you can about medicinal cannabis. Talk about the fact that there are other families using private prescriptions in the UKand thatthey are seeing real benefits.

I think the most important thing is to be confident. It’s really important for you to advocate for your child’s health, making sure that you’re clear without being aggressive. Your doctor will most likely say that there is a lack of evidence, in which case you should point out that cannabis is a botanical medicine and therefore doesn’t lend itself to randomised control trials, but actually there is a wealth of real world evidence out there.

If your doctor is unaware of cannabis medicines, you can point them in the direction of organisations such as the UKMCCS where they can learn more about it.

Sign up for Sativa Learning’s medical cannabis course

Professor Barnes

Sadly, most doctors are not that familiar with cannabis products – both the good side and the downside for some people, but there are many websites that offer education.

If your doctor is negative about it, do not necessarily lose heart as the information given out by some doctors can be incorrect. Doctors have been trained to view cannabis as a recreational drug with no medical value and the endocannabinoid system is still not routinely taught in medical schools, so changing attitudes towards it will take time.

If you feel, after some research, that cannabis may be helpful for you then contact one of the prescribing cannabis clinics (find a full list of UK clinics here) and see an educated and informed doctor for an honest opinion.

The experts

Hannah Deacon helped change the law in 2018 after successfully campaigning to access legally prescribed medical cannabis for her son. She continues to help other families access medical cannabis in the UK, as director of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (UKMCCS) and Maple Tree Consultants. 

Professor Mike Barnes obtained the first medical cannabis licence in the UK for Alfie Dingley and has been involved in the efforts to assist many others and is founder of the UKMCCS. He is also chair of the Cannabis Industry Council and clinical director of Project Twenty21.

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Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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