Scotland Opens First Medical Cannabis Clinic to Treat Chronic Pain
The UK legalized medical cannabis in 2018, but relatively few doctors are willing to prescribe this new medicine, and most patients must buy privately-sourced pot at exorbitant costs.
Published on February 13, 2020

Scottish patients suffering from chronic pain will soon get the chance to legally use medical cannabis to treat their symptoms.

Sapphire Medical Clinic, which originally launched the UK's first medical marijuana clinic in London last summer, is now opening Scotland's first cannabis center. This new clinic, based in Aberdeen, will allow patients to visit doctors who are experienced with using medical cannabis to treat symptoms of chronic pain.

"We are proud to be opening the first clinic in Scotland and have already seen first-hand how medical cannabis is transforming lives,” said Dr. Mikael Sodergren, the clinic’s Managing Director and Academic Lead, to the Scottish Sun. “It means patients in Scotland will now have access to world-class experts in managing their condition, who also have expertise in medical cannabis.”

“Sapphire operates to the highest standards of clinical governance so patients can be confident that any prescription of medical cannabis will be done as part of a rigorous and safe process,” said Dr. Michael Platt, lead pain doctor at Sapphire's Aberdeen location.

After decades of cannabis prohibition, the UK finally legalized medical marijuana in 2018. Doctors are now legally able to prescribe medical cannabis, but health officials have only approved two specific cannabis medicines to date. These two drugs, Sativex and Epidyolex, are only used to treat rare types of multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, though. Patients who are looking for more broad-spectrum forms of medical pot are forced to buy it from private sellers or import it from other countries.

The UK's public healthcare system does not cover the cost of buying privately-sourced medical marijuana, and many families have found themselves unable to afford these treatments. A recent survey found that 1.4 million UK residents are using black market cannabis for medical reasons, as they are unable to find or afford a legal source of medicine.

Dr. Platt told the Scottish Sun that the cost of medical marijuana may be “slightly higher” at the new clinic, but adds that “the patient will have the benefit of peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that any prescription for medical cannabis will be of a medical grade product of consistent quality. They will also have the benefit of access to a supportive and knowledgeable clinical team.”

The stigma against cannabis is also discouraging some patients from trying out this medicine, but the patients who do consume it are finding relief. “I was initially skeptical about trying medical cannabis,” said Lorna Blan, a patient suffering from fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease, to the Sun. “However, after much research I’ve been taking it for 5 months now and the improvement has been significant, with no side effects.”

“I used to be able to only walk 1,000 steps a day at a push and life was very limited,” Blan continued. “Since securing my access to medical cannabis I can now do between 6,000 to 8,000 steps daily, walk my dog, do housework and socialize with friends. I’m realistic, it’s not a cure, but is effective enough to allow me to start living a more fulfilling life than I have for over 12 years.”

Sapphire Medical Clinic is in the final stages of finalizing the regulatory hurdles necessary to open their clinic. Once they do, Scots will be able to legally experience the healing powers of cannabis firsthand.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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