Medical cannabis (and cannabis oils)
Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal in the UK and potentially dangerous.
Some products that might claim to be medical cannabis, such as CBD oil or hemp oil, are available to buy legally as food supplements from health stores. But there’s no guarantee these are of good quality or provide any health benefits.
Specific cannabis-based products are available on prescription as medicinal cannabis. These are only likely to benefit a very small number of patients.
Can I get a prescription for medical cannabis?
Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.
Currently, it is only likely to be prescribed for the following conditions:
- children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy
- adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
- people with muscle stiffness and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS)
It would only be considered when other treatments were not suitable or had not helped.
Epidyolex for children and adults with epilepsy
Epidyolex is a highly purified liquid containing CBD (cannabidiol).
CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits.
It will not get you high, because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.
Epidyolex can be prescribed by a specialist for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (both rare forms of epilepsy).
Nabilone for chemotherapy patients
Many people having chemotherapy will have periods where they feel sick or vomit.
Nabilone can be prescribed to adults by a specialist to help relieve these symptoms, but only when other treatments have not helped or are not suitable.
Nabilone is a medicine, taken as a capsule, that has been developed to act in a similar way to THC (the chemical in cannabis that makes you high). You may have heard it described as a “manmade form of cannabis”.
Nabiximols (Sativex) for multiple sclerosis (MS)
Nabiximols (Sativex) is a cannabis-based medicine that is sprayed into the mouth.
It is licensed in the UK for adults with MS-related muscle spasticity that has not got better with other treatments.
There is some evidence medical cannabis can help certain types of pain, though this evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief.
In some cases, however, it may be prescribed for pain as part of a clinical trial.
What about products available to buy?
Some cannabis-based products are available to buy over the internet without a prescription.
It’s likely most of these products – even those called CBD oils – will be illegal to possess or supply. There’s a good chance they will contain THC, and may not be safe to use.
Health stores sell certain types of pure CBD. However, there’s no guarantee these products will be of good quality.
They tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it’s not clear what effect they would have.
Is medical cannabis safe?
The risks of using cannabis products containing THC (the chemical that gets you high) are not currently clear. That’s why clinical trials are needed before they can be used. “Pure” products that only contain CBD, such as Epidyolex, do not carry these unknown risks linked with THC.
But in reality, most products will contain a certain amount of THC.
The main risks of THC cannabis products are:
- psychosis – there is evidence that regular cannabis use increases your risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia
- dependency on the medicine – although scientists believe this risk is probably small when its use is controlled and monitored by a specialist doctor
Generally, the more THC the product contains, the greater these risks are.
Cannabis bought illegally off the street, where the quality, ingredients and strength are not known, is the most dangerous form to use.
What are the side effects?
Depending on the type of medical cannabis you take, it’s possible to develop side effects such as:
- decreased appetite
- feeling sick
- a behavioural or mood change
- feeling very tired
- feeling high
- suicidal thoughts
If you experience any side effects from medical cannabis, report these to your medical team. You can also report them through the Yellow Card Scheme.
CBD and THC can affect how other medicines work. Always discuss possible interactions with a specialist.
CBD can also affect how your liver works, so doctors would need to monitor you regularly.
How do I get a prescription?
You cannot get cannabis-based medicine from a GP – it can only be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor.
And it is only likely to be prescribed for a small number of patients.
A hospital specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis:
- for epilepsy – if you (or your child) have one of the rare forms of epilepsy that might be helped by medical cannabis
- for MS – if you have spasticity from MS and other treatments for this are not helping
- for chemotherapy – if you are vomiting or feeling sick from chemotherapy and other anti-sickness treatments are not helping
The specialist will discuss with you all the other treatment options first, before considering a cannabis-based product.
A prescription for medical cannabis would only be given when it was believed to be in your best interests, and when other treatments had not worked or were not suitable.
It’s expected this would only apply to a very small number of people in England.
If the above does not apply to you, do not ask a GP for a referral for medical cannabis.
Will the laws on cannabis be relaxed?
The government has no intention of legalising the use of cannabis for recreational (non-medical) use.
Possessing cannabis is illegal, whatever you’re using it for. That includes medical use cannabis products, unless these have been prescribed for you.
Does CBD Oil Require a Prescription?
When reading about all the health benefits of CBD oil, you may be tempted to try it yourself — which is probably why you’re reading this article.
Many questions can start popping up in your head, such as:
Is CBD legal?
Do you need a prescription for CBD oil?
CBD’s safety profile has been acknowledged by numerous international health agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) — according to which CBD oil is “safe and well-tolerated by humans.”
Its legal status depends on the source plant because CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana (more on that later).
When it comes to getting a prescription for CBD oil, this may not be necessary — at least not in most cases.
Let’s look at different types of CBD products, their legality, and how to buy them.
Is CBD Oil Actually Legal?
People wonder if they need a prescription for CBD oil because many misconceptions are floating around its legal status.
In essence, CBD oil is legal on a federal level as long as it contains 0.3% of THC or less.
In 2018, the federal government declassified hemp from controlled substances, making a clear distinction from marijuana.
The new law allowed American farmers to grow and sell hemp for commercial use, including paper, clothes, biofuel, construction materials, food, and health supplements such as CBD oil.
Do You Need a Prescription for CBD Oil?
Whether you need a prescription for CBD oil or not depends on its source.
Different Sources of CBD
As mentioned, hemp-derived CBD oils are legal on a federal level, and you can buy them over-the-counter. But, CBD can also be extracted from marijuana, which is where its legal status becomes less obvious.
Marijuana-derived CBD Oil
In contrast to hemp, marijuana-derived CBD oil is legal only in certain states. If your state has a medical marijuana program, your doctor can prescribe it to you. These CBD oils are sold in cannabis dispensaries.
You can buy marijuana-derived CBD oils from adult-use dispensaries without prescription in states with a legal recreational market.
States Where Medical-grade CBD Is Available Only for Prescription
Nearly every state has a medical marijuana program. In these states, you need a prescription for marijuana-derived CBD oil. However, if you want to buy CBD that contains only trace amounts of THC, you can buy it without prescription in many local stores, such as pharmacies, wellness stores, vape shops, and online stores.
States, where medical marijuana is legal but recreational use remains illegal include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
States That Legalized Marijuana for All Adults
These states have legalized marijuana for recreational use as long as you’re 21 or older and can prove it with a valid ID:
- District of Columbia (D.C.)
- New York
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
In these states, you don’t need a prescription for CBD oil, no matter the source.
What CBD Medications Can Doctors Prescribe On a Federal Level?
Marijuana remains a Schedule I substance on a federal level, meaning that doctors can’t prescribe it as an official treatment.
Because Schedule I substances are thought to have no medicinal properties at all.
Does it stay in stark contrast with the current state of knowledge about marijuana?
Yes. And worse yet, doctors have their hands tied to these backward laws because they can’t prescribe marijuana as the first-choice treatment.
That being said, there is one CBD-based medication that the FDA has approved after passing a series of clinical trials.
The medication is called Epidiolex, and doctors prescribe it to treat drug-resistant forms of childhood-onset epilepsy.
The paradox is that the FDA supports the use of synthetically isolated CBD while refusing to investigate the efficacy of whole-plant extracts, which have been highlighted in preclinical human studies as more effective than products made from single cannabinoids.
For now, the consensus is that hemp-derived products are health supplements.
Do You Need a Prescription for Hemp-Derived CBD Oil?
Health supplements are available over-the-counter, meaning you don’t need a prescription for hemp-derived CBD oil.
However, many mislabeled, sometimes dangerous products are churned out by sketchy companies since the market is unregulated. These products may contain significantly less CBD than advertised or be contaminated with toxic chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.
That’s why we always underline the importance of third-party lab testing. Third-party laboratories ensure unbiased results of the product’s chemical analysis, including its potency, cannabinoid profile, and purity.
At Royal CBD, we test all our products at different production stages. As a result, our CBD oils come with batch-specific certificates of analysis that prove their quality and safety.
Where Can You Buy CBD Oil Over the Counter?
The federal legalization of hemp resulted in the birth of a booming industry. Since hemp was declassified, many aspiring entrepreneurs have been entering the market to get their fair share of the cake.
However, making CBD oils requires a lot of skill and knowledge, both from manufacturers and lab workers. It also calls for serious investments in high-tech equipment that is required for extraction.
Everybody wants to capitalize on the booming market, but not everybody has the right assets to make high-quality CBD oil.
The best way to buy high-quality CBD products is to find a trustworthy online retailer. Buying CBD oil online makes it easier to research your potential vendors regarding their hemp source, extraction methods, and third-party testing, so you don’t rely solely on the store owner’s assurance.
CBD Oil for Prescription: Wrapping It Up
Generally speaking, you don’t need a prescription for CBD oil as long as it comes from hemp. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal on a federal level, and the FDA does not regulate them. You can find them over-the-counter, just like any health supplement.
Marijuana-derived CBD, on the other hand, is legal only in certain states. If your state allows the medical use of marijuana, you can buy such CBD oils if your doctor prescribes them. Those living in states where recreational use is legal can buy all types of CBD oil without prescription.
When shopping for CBD products — whether near you or online — make sure to tick off some important points on your quality checklist, including the hemp source, extraction, third-party testing, transparency, and the company’s reputation.
Doing so will help you make a well-informed decision and pick the right type of CBD for your situation.
At Royal CBD, we offer shipping to all 50 states so that you can enjoy premium quality from any place in the US.