Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic has been approved by regulators.
Sapphire Medical Clinic, located in Stirling, is the first medical cannabis clinic licensed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) to provide safe access to medical cannabis to patients in Scotland.
Medical cannabis was legalized in the UK in November 2018, allowing doctors to prescribe it in certain situations. The clinic will begin by offering virtual appointments. Face-to-face consultations will be held when Covid restrictions allow. Originally, the clinic was supposed to open in the center of Aberdeen, but it will operate in facilities on the outskirts of the city.
The Scottish government has said that it has no influence on prescribing and that the decision to prescribe the drug rests with specialist doctors. The change in the law moved cannabis from Schedule 1 of the 2001 Drug Abuse Regulations, which means that it has no therapeutic value, to Schedule 2. This category includes controlled drugs, but that have a recognized medical use and they can be prescribed in certain circumstances.
Sapphire Medical Managing Director Dr. Mikael Sodergren said: “We are delighted to be the first to obtain marketing authorization: ‘We are delighted to be the first HIS registered clinic, demonstrating the strong clinical governance framework that We have established to evaluate patients for medical cannabis treatment.
“By collecting clinical results through the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, we will contribute significantly to the evidence base and ultimately enable more patients to benefit from medical cannabis as a treatment option. “
Cannabis-based medicines can come in the form of whole cannabis flowers, oils or capsules, or in a single compound that can be isolated and extracted. Multiple sclerosis patients and parents of children with severe epilepsy are among those who have struggled to access these medications.
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Cole, Lisa Quarrell’s eight-year-old son, has a rare form of severe epilepsy and suffered up to 20 seizures a day before he was prescribed cannabis oil. His mother, from East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, originally obtained the drug in Holland, but now has a private prescription.
He welcomed the first Scottish clinic.
She told BBC Scotland: ‘This will not change my situation as my current problem is simply funding or access to the NHS. However, it will be easier for desperate parents to have access to this wonderful drug.
“Many parents are forced to take the only solution offered by NHS Scotland, brain surgery, or go against their doctors to find a safer solution on their own. Not only is this drug not yet available on the NHS, doctors don’t even want to discuss it, so parents are terrified to ask to be allowed to try it. “
She added: “This is a step in the right direction and it means that there will finally be a safe path that scared parents can take. “
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A life preserver
Andie Connolly-Brown, 41, from Edinburgh, suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
He tried a number of conventional therapies. She said: “Having access to medical cannabis is a lifesaver for me. My anxiety, in particular, has been compounded by the blocking of Covid-19, so safe and affordable access to medical cannabis is welcome. “
A Scottish government spokesperson said: ‘Medical cannabis product programming (CBPM) is reserved for the UK government and the Scottish government does not have the power to change its status. We welcome the UK Government’s decision to allow GMC Specialist Registry physicians to prescribe such products where there is clear published evidence of their benefits.
“The decision whether or not to prescribe a drug to a patient, and which drug to prescribe, is entirely up to the physician in charge of the patient’s care, after taking into account the clinical condition and the safety of the patient. Either an NHS doctor or a doctor who works in a private clinic.
“The decision to seek private treatment or not depends on the patient or the caregiver. If they do, they are responsible for paying the costs incurred. “
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