Fears are growing among doctors that the rolling-out of medicinal cannabis could spark an addiction crisis.
Medicinal cannabis will become legal for doctors to prescribe in cases of “exceptional clinical need” from Thursday.
The measure was announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid following high-profile campaigns on behalf of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, both who suffer from epilepsy.
But some specialists fear the measure has been rushed through, and worry that the NHS could soon be facing an addiction crisis.
Consultant Rajesh Munglani is one specialist with reservations about the rolling out of the drug.
He believes that doctors may become inundated with patients wanting new medicines, putting them in a difficult position.
“There is no evidence unfortunately that cannabis actually gives a good quality of life in most of our patients,” Dr Munglani.
“Of course there are one or two people who say it has been really dramatic, but every time we write a prescription we know it is four times more likely that it will harm somebody than help somebody.”
GW Pharmaceuticals is the leading producer of cannabis-based medicines – and the only UK company with a licensed and regulated product being used in Britain and across the world.
Its chief operating officer, Chris Tovey, is convinced that legalising the drug for medical use will enhance research.
“I think the future is really exciting. As well as reducing the stigma, I think what it is going to encourage is a better understanding of cannabis-based medicines,” Mr Tovey said.
“The reforms and changes are going to encourage more research, and it’s also going to help the medical community – understanding much better what is the potential.”
NHS England has issued guidance on prescribing medicinal cannabis.
But the government insists that doctors are in the best position to decide whether or not to prescribe the drug.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Doctors need to use their clinical judgement and having guidance in place helps.
“Ultimately the need to treat an individual person and the responsibility for that falls on the shoulders of a doctor – that’s what they do.”
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