By Roland Sebestyén
According to recent reports, more than a million UK patients buy cannabis illegally to treat themselves. While on the streets, patients can never be sure what they’ve got for their money, the BBC reports that Sapphire Medical Clinics are first in the UK to offer access to a new range of low-cost UK manufactured medical cannabis products.
While medical cannabis is still deemed illegal in almost 150 countries globally, it’s been legal in the UK since 2018. Over the past two years, more people suffering from severe conditions turned to medical cannabis as an alternative treatment.
More than 1.4 million people in the UK are believed to use cannabis from the black market to tackle a large variety of conditions, including depression, chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, or Multiple sclerosis (MS).
The most common reason for this is the availability and ease of access. In addition, it is widely perceived that black market cannabis is more financially viable for many people.
According to the statistics, a person can easily find a gram of cannabis for £10 on the streets. Moreover, if someone wants to buy an ounce (which is estimated to cost around £180), cannabis becomes even cheaper.
However, cannabis from the black market has its risks. For the money, a person might get cheap, inefficient, contaminated cannabis.
Sapphire Medical Clinics, the first UK medical cannabis clinic registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), announced that a number of their patients have now started treatment with a new UK manufactured medical cannabis range.
This range of products has resulted in achieving a significant cost reduction for patients while continuing treatment with cannabis-based medicines with equivalent levels of major cannabinoids.
Treatment with medical cannabis aims to keep patients off the black market and provide them with high quality and affordable cannabis-based medicines.
A review by Sapphire Medical Cannabis Clinics found that the typical patient with chronic pain for treatment with medical cannabis will pay only £4.76 a day.
Furthermore, in comparison to the black market, Sapphire offers a professional environment and consultation, on-going support with treatment and a safe, consistent supply.
With this announcement, experts believe the UK’s medical cannabis market has made the next giant step forward.
Dr Michael Platt, Medical Director, and Consultant Pain Physician at Sapphire Clinics, said that affordability had been a significant barrier for many patients.
He added: “As treatment becomes more affordable, we hope this provides an immediate solution for those patients who would otherwise benefit from medicinal cannabis but have previously been unable to afford the associated costs of treatment.
“At Sapphire Clinics, all patients are added to the UK Medical Cannabis Registry and our Real-World Data platform contributing to the growing evidence base.
“This data will ultimately help guide the availability of free treatment on the NHS in appropriate conditions.”
Carl Holvey, Chief Pharmacist at Sapphire Clinics, added: “It is very welcome to see the UK produced medical cannabis products finally available to patients that meet the high regulatory standards and consistent availability that we expect.
“Patients that resort to sourcing cannabis illicitly face more than just the legalities of self-medicating, but also the unknown strength, contaminants, and unpredictability of this way of medicating.”
This morning, Laura Drummond, 40, from Farnborough, talked about her treatment with medical cannabis on BBC.
She said: The condition changed my life. Since I started [treatment] in May 2020, I have seen a dramatic effect and the pain levels have reduced. I have accessed this [treatment] through Sapphire Medical Clinics’’.
Mrs Drummond has a 2-year-old daughter and previously worked as a midwife and nurse before her diagnosis of Fibromyalgia in 2015, a condition that causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.
BREAKING: Live on @BBCNews ‘Medical cannabis price cut’
Sapphire Medical Clinics interviewed on BBC with patients and consultants discussing the significant price reductions of medical cannabis in the UK
More updates on this breaking story to come pic.twitter.com/48YgZItJ1A
— Sapphire Medical Clinics (@SapphireClinics) October 16, 2020
Leigh Sherman, 38, from Peterborough, is one of the patients who has benefited from Sapphire’s new initiative.
Mr Sherman, who was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, has been prescribed medical cannabis through Sapphire.
He said: “The last nine months have been completely life-changing. I can now make plans for my future, such as moving house and securing full-time work.
“My latest prescription was for £150, which should last me for two months. It is significantly cheaper than my first prescription, which was £300 and lasted me just one month.
“Before I was able to secure prescribed medical cannabis, I would pay around £70 a week for black market cannabis to try and self-medicate, but this was inconsistent and unsafe.”
To make an appointment and be included in the Real World Evidence Platform, click on this link.