Great Britain is the last country in Western Europe, other than Ireland, to introduce a medical cannabis program, and it’s a pretty narrow one at that.
Once a great colonial empire, now next to dead-last in introducing a medical cannabis program. At least they introduced it, right?
There was a lot of questions about whether medical cannabis will be legalized in Great Britain over the last 2 years.
Then, the media did its part, and stories of disabled kids and sick elderly citizens warmed up the hearts of Britain’s politicians.
However, that warmth apparently didn’t last long as the medical program they implemented is quite restrictive and narrow.
Medical cannabis was a very hotly debated topic among people in the UK, as the older generations have shown little support for legalizing.
Not an all-encompassing program
The regulators made it clear that medical cannabis will still be a very hard drug to obtain.
They’ve designed it so that only three types of people can access it:
- Children with rare, severe forms of epilepsy
- Adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
- Adults with muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis
For a country of about ~66 million residents, that would mean that a very small number of residents will be able to get access.
Let’s do the math:
There are about 60,000 children with epilepsy in the UK. Let’s say that about every 10th has severe epilepsy, that’s still only 6,000.
Almost 360,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every year. So, let’s assume that they all go to chemo, but only a half feels nausea and vomits. That’s another 180,000 people.
Lastly, more than 100,000 people in the UK have MS. Muscle spasticity is normal among MS patients, and it can vary from mild tightness in the muscles to severe cramping and uncontrollable spasms of extremities.
Let’s say that about 80% of the MS patients are approved, that’s still just another 80,000.
The program is likely to accept anywhere between 250,000 and 500,000 patients. That’s not a huge number.
I am a strong proponent of adding multiple mental issues to the list of conditions which you can apply with for medical cannabis.
Anxiety, depression, narcolepsy, eating disorders and a few others have found their way onto lists in other country’s medical cannabis programs.
Medical cannabis in Europe is developing approximately at the same pace as the programs in US.
Some states are more advanced, while others are lagging behind. In Europe’s case, some of the most advanced programs are in Germany, Denmark, and Italy.
However, there are still cases in other countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and most of the ex-Soviet states where legalization of medical cannabis is not even in the talks.
Here’s the biggest issue—people need education. People in UK will need years to learn about medical cannabis.
Not only does the list of conditions need to be expanded, but the public needs to be educated.
Canada has had medical cannabis since 2001, and the number of users started rapidly rising just in the last 3 years.
To be honest, the program looked a lot like what UK just introduced. But, in time the program got expanded.
Hopefully, that will happen with Britain’s medical cannabis program soon enough.