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Medicinal Herbal Cannabis

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The States of Guernsey has approved a change in law that will, for the first time, allow specialists to prescribe herbal cannabis for medicinal use.

The Committee for Health & Social Care believes this an important step in modernising the Island's legislation in regard to cannabis, and builds on some of the pioneering work led by Guernsey in recent years.

It must be stressed that Medicinal Herbal Cannabis (MHC) can not be requested by a patient. They would need to be referred by their GP to a relevant, authorised specialist medical practitioner.

It is only this specialist who can prescribe MHC and only if they deem it appropriate for your particular condition. 

The product will have had to have been prepared in a specialist facility (UK or the EU) which is approved for carrying out such work.

There are an agreed limited number of conditions for which cannabis might be considered an option these are:

  1. Chronic Pain
  2. Multiple Sclerosis
  3. Epilepsy
  4. Nausea and Vomiting

There is potential further use in palliative care.

The specialist must advise the Committee for Health & Social Care of their intention to use these products in their practice before prescribing.

It should be noted that the law change only permits the prescribing of herbal based cannabis products which are manufactured to a pharmaceutical standard. This does not mean the States of Guernsey will fund such medicinal forms. Applications for their funding will be considered on the same basis as any other medicine which is requested for addition to the list of approved medicinal products which the States of Guernsey will fund (known as the addition to the white list).

Update 1 September 2020

The current arrangements are reliant on local doctors feeling able and willing to prescribe such products and being appropriately qualified to do so. There are many reasons why a doctor may feel ill-equipped to do so based on their professional experience and expertise. Up to now, no local doctors included on the UK Specialist Register have approached HSC with respect to prescribing cannabis-based products.

Having been made aware of this practical barrier, HSC is actively progressing further legislative changes which will enable islanders to privately access care through off-island clinics, with the potential for support from on-island clinicians, and for prescribed cannabis products to be lawfully imported into the Bailiwick. This will retain the same robust safeguards inherent in the original legislation to ensure islanders access high-quality products while addressing the operational challenges which arose in giving effect to the intention of the 2019 Order. This will see the Committee able to issue a licence for the importation and supply of a cannabis-based medicinal product for human use, even if it is not prescribed (or directed) by a specialist medicinal practitioner registered in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and does not have a marketing authorisation issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency or the European Medicines Agency.

This work is being progressed as a priority and it is hoped that the legislative changes will be made within the next month. More information is available here.

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