There has been a significant spike in the number of people in the UK turning to private clinics for medical cannabis, it has been claimed.
Prescriptions for medical cannabis containing THC on the NHS were legalised in November 2018 but very few patients have actually received treatment, the BBC reports.
This has led some patients, with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy MS, to pay up to £800 a month privately for access to the treatment.
The government said it sympathised with families “dealing so courageously with challenging conditions”.
But campaign groups say by not prescribing cannabis medicines with THC, the NHS is limiting treatment options for patients.
The issue is becoming of increasing concern to employers, too. Experts say the businesses which self-insure their healthcare schemes through trusts will need to get to grips with meeting the demands of staff who will expect to receieve funding for medical cannabis treatment as part of their benefits package.
A review earlier this month by NHS England, however, highlighted a lack of evidence about the long-term safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis.
Campaigners, though, say that access to new and emerging cannabis-based treatments could prove vital to patients with severe, chronic medical conditions.
The BBC reports that the new London branch of The Medical Cannabis Clinics, which has not yet opened, said it already has 162 patients on its waiting list, with individuals affected by conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.