Weed, pot, grass, Mary-Jane or marijuana – the cannabis plant goes under a number of names, and soon UK doctors will be able to prescribe it to patients for the first time.
This will likely leave millions of people across the country thinking, am I eligible for cannabis oil?
While cannabis will not be completely legalised, doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis as an oil for treatment as of Thursday, November 1.
Although, mostly associated with its smoking properties and the ability to ‘get high,’ this new brand of treatment will focus solely on the plants medicinal properties.
The move follows the high profile case involving Charlotte Caldwell and her son Billy, who had a six months worth supply of cannabis oil seized at Heathrow Airport when returning from Canada*.
Billy, who has autism and severe epilepsy, uses cannabis oil to treat his illness, was the first to be given a prescription for the life altering medication leading to a change in precedent in the Home Office.
(*Cannabis in Canada has just been legalised for recreational use)
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil will be available on prescription from November 1. Credit: getty
To a laymen cannabis oil is a thick and sticky substance extracted from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.
The substance in ingested – but does not leave the user with a sense of being high, instead it is believed to offer a sense of relaxation without impairing a person’s mental state.
Officially called Cannabidiol (CBD) the Cannabis Trades Association UK has revealed 250,000 people currently use the treatment method, a number which has doubled in the last year.
CBD is technically already legal in the UK and sold at Holland and Barrett, however, UK rules dictate the THC content must remain under 0.05 per cent.
Cannabis oil prescribed to patients will have different legal percentages, instead using a concentrated form of the substance, allowing for stronger medicinal properties.
Currently the treatment retails between £19.99 and £59.99, which will drastically change when the oil is available on prescription.
What are the medical benefits of cannabis?
Charlotte Caldwell and her son Billy Caldwell, who was the first to receive cannabis oil on prescription
Due to the fact that ‘weed’ has been labeled as an illegal Class B drug there have not been many studies conducted into its advantages and disadvantages.
Despite restricted studies in the UK, countries across the globe have discovered that cannabis can increase appetite, decrease pain, reduce inflammation and ease seizures as well as relieve nausea.
These advantages are instrumental in treating a number of conditions for thousands of sufferers nationwide.
Are you eligible for Cannabis on prescription?
CBD can also be sold in capsule form Credit Reach
When the use of Cannabis oil is made legal on November 1, doctors will be able to prescribe and recommend the treatment without fear of persecution.
But will you be eligible to use medicinal cannabis?
When the change is made patients with cancer, HIV/Aids, epilepsy, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis (MS) will be able to receive cannabis oil through their doctor.
Allowing sufferers of long term conditions such as these, to access medication through legal means is a monumental decision made by government officials.
While each patient’s treatment is decided based on their individual needs, anyone that would benefit from the use of cannabis oil will have the option of a regular prescription.
Has medical marijuana always been illegal?
The UK is behind in it’s use of medical cannabis. Nick Fishenden from HempMeds at a convention in Los Angeles, California. Credit: getty
Throughout history, cannabis has been used for a number of purposes from recreational use to the treatment of a number of ailments.
The use of the drug was first prohibited in the Dangerous Drugs Act in 1928 – which meant all legal sale, production and use was brought to a quick and swift halt.
Since this change, the only use of cannabis in the UK is a synthetic version of the plant called Nabilone this is used in Salvitex, which is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and sufferers of MS.
This is done by mimicking THC, the component within cannabis that creates the feeling of being ‘high.’
As the drug is synthetic all the properties that affect the body and create the feelings associated with recreational use have been removed – thus allowing its use.
Is possession of cannabis still illegal?
Possession of any other form of cannabis can still result in jail time. Credit: getty
While the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been legalised for patients in the UK possession of the class B drug will still carry an unlimited fine and up to five years in jail.
Those found in possession of the drug or oil without a valid prescription will be held to account. And any dealers caught with the illegal substance can face up to 14 years in prison.