Updated: Sep 26
The Beginners Guide To Going Legal With UK Medical Cannabis
What if I told you cannabis is medically legal in the UK?
Would you believe me? Probably not... it's not your fault though.
Well, it’s completely true. And what’s more, it has been for nearly five years.
Now some folk might think it’s thanks to Brexit and the UK starting to branch out into a more global market that finally made this happen but they would be wrong.
In fact, it seems we have Covid to thank for it all. You see - Covid made it possible for doctors to give appointments remotely. So clinics and pharmacies could now work through the internet to reach more patients through video calls. Since the reclassification of CBMP (cannabis-based medical products) to a Schedule 2 drug in 2018; over 20 clinics have sprung up around Great Britain.
However, due to marketing laws, these clinics have mostly had to depend on word of mouth to get off the ground. And now the word is finally spreading.
So how do you go about joining one of these clinics and how can you find out further information without looking at advertising? Well I, myself, have faced a lot of trial and error since going legal nearly 3 years ago and I thought it might be beneficial to anyone out there looking to either see if a medical marijuana product can work for them or if they just want to make the switch from black market use to save money or any worry about workers rights whilst medicated, etc.
Exploring Public Forums
I am a member of several Facebook and Reddit groups for medical cannabis. Some of these you can search and you’ll find publicly but a few are still private groups where someone will need to invite you. On these groups are thousands of patients, like me, who are happy to offer advice and recommend clinics and strains and answer any concerns, no matter how small you may think they are. As I have said, word of mouth is the biggest marketing key in the medical field at the moment and many patients have been in it for years. These forums are also good for knowing what clinics or strains to avoid because, as you will see later, it's not all great yet.
As there are more clinics popping up all the time it really pays to keep an eye on websites such as www.medbud.wiki which will not only show various strains available at what cost but also any news on all the individual clinics. Jorja clinic has recently opened with a monthly subscription fee, handy for any lower-paid workers and there is the GAP access scheme at Integro clinic for anyone on welfare or is/was a veteran. In this scheme, the 1st appointment is completely free which gives you time to save towards the costs of the medication itself.
Medbud is honestly a fantastic site because not only does it show lists of clinics but it can link you directly to their websites where many have contact forms you can fill in to request a callback. Or you can find the info to call them yourself. It also contains handy links such as advice on vapes, maintenance of vapes, the best way to store meds, and links to civil rights as a medical cannabis patient. So it is definitely one you want to bookmark.
The Vape Escape
In the UK at the moment medical cannabis MUST be vaped by law. It really pays to invest in a good vape. Ideally, you need to find one that heats through conduction and not combustion. So it should have a small chamber that heats up and produces vapor and not one of those tiny coils that burn your cannabis into smoke. The best one I have is the Mighty+ from Storz & Bickel but this is on the high cost end of dry herb vaporizers. Cheaper models that come recommended are the XMAX v3 pro and the Pax3. Avoid any with rubber mouthpieces as this can taste bad when the vape gets hot and can ruin your vaping experience.
It is important to remember this vape will be classed as a medical device. CBMPs ARE PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS and therefore protected under the Equality Act of 2010. A dry herb vape is NOT an e-cig but it can help you stop smoking nicotine... It has been over 6 months now since I had a cigarette. And I hope never to go back. Thankfully even the smell makes me heave now.
What I did was start with a cheaper model and then save as much as I could before the 4/20 (20th April to us Brits) sale and then I got the Mighty at a discount. Though, you can often find second-hand models going cheap online if you shop around too.
What’s up Doc?
It still seems like a myth, doesn’t it? Like they must be quack doctors who got a doctorate on eBay like registering to do a wedding or something? Maybe it’s not real cannabis and it’s spice? Maybe I’m pulling your leg and you think you’ll have to go on the dark web or America or Amsterdam to get it this easily?
Well no. My doctor, for example, is Dr. Sunny Nayee. A quick goggle on Google shows you he is one the leading consultants in pain management and understanding chronic pain
conditions. He has worked for over 15 years as a doctor and trained at Cambridge University Medical School. He has won awards and been covered by several media outlets and even worked in anesthesia and cadaveric workshops. So he is dead handy to have around! Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.
As well as the doc I have my wonderful nurse James W. who I can contact with any enquires for free and the lovely admin staff, including the ever-helpful Louise T., are always at hand to help with just a quick email. James even helped me recently with a PIP assessment by writing up a very helpful letter to put with my medical evidence, which I think was a big help in keeping my award.
Oh, and no – it’s not spice! I tried spice once, but never again! You can trace each strain right back via the growing supplier to the origin of growth on medbud.wiki. You can also find if it’s a sativa, hybrid or indica, what the THC strength is and terpene profile, etc which is awesome.
Most strains also contain pictures of their buds so you can see what the quality is like before you pay for it too.
Money POT/POT Money
The main question people ask me is how can I afford it... Well, I’ve spent months getting the balance right now but thanks to quitting smoking and quitting the black market I actually spend a lot less now than I did when I smoked joints.
It took me opening a savings account and getting online banking but I somehow, slowly began to build up enough to get my first lot of medication, then I would buy just what I NEEDED and not what I wanted for a good while. Every time I wanted a takeaway or something I would just watch the amount grow instead. Now I can save maybe 20/30 a week aside from what I’d normally have spent on cigarettes and that goes towards the cost of my medication. Keep in mind that the black market can average for about £10 a gram locally. So when you get a strain on legal that’s 5/7 a gram you’re actually going to save money in the long run there too.
Once you get passed the initial appointment and the one afterward, which is usually 4 weeks following the 1st, then you can find it very easy to save each week towards your appointment every 3 months thereafter. Budgeting for the medication can prove tricky but I have found it helps if you can explain your budget to the clinic themselves and they will find a way to prescribe you that is beneficial to your pocket such as ordering in bulk or even a few grams each week. Though you would need to be prepared to pay any repeat prescription fees, if any, each week if you do this.
Not all green on the other side.
Alas, as with any healthcare, there are clinics and doctors around that aren’t so great. I can’t name any here for legal reasons but I have come across more than one doctor who likes to hold power over patients. In fact, I had one doctor who HELD HIS HAND UP when I suggested trying a strain that I thought might be good for my fibromyalgia, only to tell me “I am the doctor - I will tell you what you get”. It turned out this doctor was just working the private field for little spare coin and had no understanding of terpenes or their medicinal benefits. I wasn’t the only one to complain about that doctor either looking at the forums and it seems that clinic must be losing money anyway because though I can’t name them, I can tell you they recently jumped their prices through the roof for consultation cost and a lot of their patients aren’t happy about it.
I do wish the admin staff there the best of luck though, they were lovely. But if I worked there I’d soon be re-uploading my C.V. onto Indeed sharpish!
I’ve also had more than my fair share of bad medication. As I have written before a lot of the strains come irradiated, which is to say cleansed via radiation (Gamma, Beta etc.). Thankfully this is an improving practice but at first it left a lot of plants looking brown and smelling bitter to the discerning palette. There are non-irradiated ones available now via companies such as Grow Pharma which has some very pleasant strains like the LA Sage and French Cookies is my personal favourite.
We are also starting to see some cannabis oil vapes become available from Niodecs and Viola and one source has mentioned the possibility of solid/hashish medications in the future. As was with America, the medical field of cannabis is still very much in its baby steps. There are oils and capsules too for those who don’t want to dose with buds or flowers.
Terms and conditions
Don’t panic folks, I’m being literal in this title. As with all medications, there do come some conditions that you must follow. You need to have something wrong with you for one thing.
Your NHS doctors need to send any clinic a brief summary of your care and ails to the clinic for their perusal. Now some NHS doctors are still whinging at this so if it seems your doctor is kicking its heels and refusing to send this summary over then just ask your doctor's receptionist for LEVEL THREE clearing to the MyGP app on your phone. This is a legal right and can’t be refused. This allows you to access all your conditions, NHS prescriptions etc on your phone you can then screenshot and send to the canna clinic yourself.
Basically, you just need to show you have a condition that at least TWO NHS prescriptions haven’t worked for. These can be physical or mental conditions and can include depression, appetite disorders, OCD, migraines, and palliative care.
As for terms as I said before this is NOT cannabis, well it is.... but it is MEDICAL cannabis. This means it is medication and protected by equality laws.
As of the moment you get your first prescription you are covered by law and so it helps to know those laws. They can help protect you if your boss is argumentative about employing someone using cannabis, even medicinally. Or if your housing provider has something to say. If you need to medicate at a venue that has SIA security it is definitely very convenient to have your written prescription on your person. Because the moment you become accepted as a patient, you are just that. A patient. Not a pothead, not a user, not an abuser. Not a druggie or a junkie or even a stoner.
You are a medical patient and under section 15, subsection 1(i) it is discrimination of a disabled person if anyone is unfavourable to them stemming from their disability... including whatever they happen to be prescribed.
Guy Coxall and Ali Taylor from “Seed Our Future” have created a brilliant little PDF that patients can download which you can show to any businesses you may need to attend for a length of time, such as pubs or clubs.
And for any drivers or workers worried about their rights who may need to show something more official then you can find several extremely helpful links from Gov.UK relating to legislation for medical cannabis patients in the U.K. here:
Remember the ultimate goal is to get enough patients to show that access to this medication needs to be available in free healthcare as well as private. The main path that allowed legalisation to blossom worldwide as it has was by pushing the medicinal benefits. It might be the only way to get it through in Britain. So that means not being afraid to speak up for your rights as a patient.
You can find out more at www.seedourfuture.co.uk if you want to look more into advocating and activism in this field. Guy Coxall is on Facebook and helps patients nearly daily in court to keep their homes and jobs as cannabis patients and he is always happy to give advice when he is free.
Honesty is the best policy! Honest!
The doctors are doctors because... quite simply... they are not idiots! They know full well most of us are bound to have used cannabis in the past or present time. So be honest with them. Tell them the strains that worked for you in the past. Tell them about the ones that didn’t. Tell them how much you go through and what your tolerance is like because all that information is actually beneficial in finding the right strains to work for you. Even if you’ve never used cannabis in the past there are strains of CBD flower available that you can vape and CBD oils you can take that will not make you feel high. It also helps if you’re honest about your budget upfront too as clinics will be happy to work with you to help you find a manageable budget for your prescriptions. I found being upfront about my condition and how cannabis has helped me in the past, mentally as well as physically, helped me overcome a few hurdles too.
For example, having only used local plugs in the past the majority of my purchases were Stardawg-related, which, I have since learned, is a Sativa-dominant hybrid and was causing me trouble sleeping. Switching to the Indica-dominant Herijuana T18 has helped me regain hours of beauty sleep... alas not done much for my beauty! But I did save £3 on the gram!
Anyroad I must go but I really do hope this little guide has been some help to some of you.
The links above (especially medbud) should provide you with more specific details like costs per strain and which clinic is cheapest. I just wanted to share some pros and cons and a little “how-to” info for anyone interested. A few little titbits of what I wish I knew before I started on this journey but now that I am here I hope to never turn back. And why would I? I feel healthier, I feel in less pain and I sleep better. And best of all - I stay higher for lower!
Thanks for reading!