Since the UK’s medical cannabis framework has come into place in November 2018, there’s been a surge of interest from around the country. While Cannabis Access Clinics headquarters is in London, many of our enquiries come from outside the capital city.
Fortunately, the specialist doctors that work with CA Clinics are experienced in engaging with patients via video and are at the forefront of the emergent landscape of telehealth. This enables us to be able to provide medical cannabis consultations and access to all regions of the United Kingdom and unsurprisingly, interest has been strong.
Despite the UK CA Clinics headquarters currently being based in London, this hasn’t restricted us from helping patients across the country. London enquiries account for a relatively small percentage with as many as one third of medical cannabis enquiries coming from northern areas around Manchester, Newcastle and the Yorkshire region.
The industry is still finding its feet across the UK, so patient interest from Northern Ireland and Wales has so far been slim. This, however pales in comparison interest from Scotland, as much as 10% of our medical cannabis consultations are coming out of Glasgow and surrounds.
Interest is not restricted to urban centres with the benefits of telehealth offering access to those anywhere in the country.
CA Clinics have had telemedicine structures in place that allow prescribing specialists to communicate with patients via a video consultation. For many patients, it’s much safer to stay at home than travel to central London for a face to face consultation, now more than ever. If you’ve not had the need to engage a healthcare practitioner recently, telemedicine functions similarly to a face to face consultation, including discussing your medical history, previous treatments tried, and discussing a treatment plan. Follow up consultations can also be performed via video. Video consultations do have their limits, particularly when it comes to physical examination, investigation or tests, and diagnosis. However for patients who have established chronic conditions, that have already been thoroughly investigated, and a number of treatments have already been tried, these drawbacks are less of a concern.
In the medical cannabis industry, both locally and abroad, telehealth contributes to removing barriers, and addresses accessibility issues to services for those who need it most.
Increasing rates of opioid prescriptions can be seen around the world, with the UK being no exception. As opiate dependence has grown globally, so has interest in medical cannabis as an opioid-sparing agent.
Evidence suggests cannabidiol (CBD) has significant and sustained effects in reducing cravings and anxiety in opioid-dependent individuals. It is also reported that low dose CBD in combination with low dose opioid prescriptions can be more effective than either drug alone.
In the UK opioid-related deaths have been steadily increasing for the past 30 years, last year in England and Wales alone more than 2,200 opioid-related deaths were recorded. Nine out of ten of the UK’s highest opioid prescribing areas are located in the Northern regions of England. Concurrently northern centres such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle also have a higher prevalence of medical cannabis enquiries.
The association with increased opioid prescriptions and high medical cannabis enquiries is a little tenuous. Yet, there may be a link between individuals from high opioid prescribing regions attempting to wean off opioids, given the higher levels of interest into medicinal cannabis coming from these areas.
Considering how many CA Clinics enquiries are related to chronic pain, one of the main conditions for which opioids are prescribed, this correlation would be unsurprising.
No matter what your location, be it Cardiff or Canterbury Belfast or Birmingham, CA Clinics is still accessible during COVID-19 restrictions. To ease the financial burden our eligibility consultations are currently free of charge. We urge you to stay healthy and stay at home, yet if you were considering whether medical cannabis might be suited to your medical condition, don’t let physical distance impact your ability to engage in a medical cannabis consultation.
By Jessica Kindynis