Nearly half of all UK residents have no idea that their doctors can legally write them prescriptions for medical marijuana, according to a recent survey.
In the fall of 2018, the UK Home Office officially moved cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the country's Misuse of Drugs Act. Unlike Schedule 1 drugs, the Schedule 2 classification is reserved for drugs that have some proven medical use. Under this new rescheduling, doctors can legally prescribe medicinal pot to treat epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and a few other conditions.
But even though they are legally able to prescribe weed, the vast majority of physicians have remained unwilling to do so. The National Health Service (NHS), Britain's public health care service, barely allows access to medical marijuana, so patients wishing to use these products are forced to import them from overseas at exorbitant cost. To date, health officials have only approved two cannabis-derived medicines that are only used to treat rare forms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
And according to an ongoing poll conducted by UK cannabis media source Canex, many Brits aren't even aware that medical pot is legal. Out of 13,254 UK residents who have responded to the poll so far, a whopping 46 percent didn't even know that their government had legalized medical marijuana. The lack of awareness surrounding the country's legal medical pot program is so poor, in fact, that over 1.4 million Brits say they are using black market weed to treat chronic medical issues.
Fortunately, devoted advocacy groups and pot-friendly physicians are working overtime to boost awareness, knowledge, and access to medical pot. Last summer, Sapphire Medical Clinics opened Britain's first medical pot clinic in London, and this February, they opened Scotland's first legal weed clinic. The company has also launched the Sapphire Foundation, which is focused on finding ways to make medical pot affordable.
Researchers are also working to collect new evidence that they hope will educate physicians about the healing powers of pot. Last fall, the UK Home Office granted a company a license to grow high-THC pot plants for medical research purposes, and this spring, two newborn babies suffering from a rare illness were enrolled in a clinical cannabis study.
Cannabis research will ramp up next year with the start of Project Twenty21, the largest cannabis research study to ever be conducted in the UK or Europe. This study will track 20,000 subjects suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, and dozens of other conditions.