Medicinal cannabis was legalised last year but so far, virtually no-one in the UK has been able to access it.
Now, enough cannabis to treat 30 patients for a month has arrived in the UK from the Netherlands.
Four patients with prescriptions, all to treat chronic pain, will receive cannabis-derived medicines immediately.
Specialist doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis since 1 November – so what has taken so long?
The new law
The new law moved cannabis from schedule 1 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 – meaning it had no therapeutic value – to schedule 2.
That category is for drugs which are controlled but have a recognised medical use and can be prescribed in certain circumstances.
Why are so many countries now saying cannabis is OK?
Cannabis-based medicines can come in the form of whole cannabis flowers, oils or capsules, or a single compound which can be isolated and extracted.
The two main active ingredients in cannabis are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but a cannabis plant will contain hundreds of different compounds.
Medicinal cannabis is currently unlicensed so doctors can prescribe it only if a patient has a need that can’t be met by licensed medicines.
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