Medical marijuana in the UK may be legal now, but it hasn’t always been that way. The 2018 legalisation of the drug came following lengthy debates between medical professionals, government organisations, and the public.

The United Kingdom is not unique in this regard. Over the past decade, an increasing number of countries have legalised cannabis for medical use. Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding the dispensation of medical cannabis. However, all clearly see the benefit in making this drug accessible to those who have previously tried other therapeutic options and are still suffering. 

Medical cannabis in the UK — a timeline

Understanding how the United Kingdom has come to this point requires us to travel back some four and a half thousand years to China. 

2700 BC: 2700 BC sees the first ever recorded use of cannabis for medical purposes. The Pen-ts’ao Ching is one of the world’s oldest medical documents and reports the cultivation and prescription of medical cannabis to treat a range of conditions.

1839: Skipping ahead a few thousand years and we find ourselves in Ireland, where physician William O’Shaughnessy introduces medical cannabis to the Western world. Amongst other achievements, including pioneering intravenous therapy, O’Shaughnessy popularised medical cannabis as a method of helping to treat rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus. 

1928: The use of medical marijuana in the UK soon became highly politicised, with many top government officials and lawmakers suggesting that the drug was linked to increased crime and anti-social behaviour. As a result, it was prohibited and added to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.

1971: 50 years later and not much had changed; politicians highlighted climbing rates of cannabis use and arrests in an attempt to further criminalise the drug. In 1971, cannabis was listed as a class B substance on the Misuse of Drugs Act.

2018: Throughout the preceding 200 years, extensive research had been carried out regarding both the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis and the complex social, economic, and political factors that had led to its initial criminalisation. 

Much debate was conducted between stakeholders, including politicians, medical professionals, and patients who would most benefit from the drug’s legalisation. Following extensive consultation, medical cannabis was rescheduled from schedule 1 to schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, thus making medical marijuana in the UK legal. 

There are still heavy regulations that govern the prescription of medical cannabis. Only specialists registered in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council are legally permitted to prescribe the drug. Patients must also have tried multiple other medications and therapies that have either been ineffectual or have produced negative side-effects. 

The legalisation of medical marijuana in the UK has led to increased interest from patients and medical researchers. As more clinical trials are conducted, we are likely to develop a better understanding of the use, effects, and benefits of taking medical cannabis.

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I am Aria. I am a passionate blogger. Blogging is my profession. I love to write articles on several topics. Keep up the good work and Have a great day!