Cannabis-based medicinal products: what CQC expects from providers

Page last updated: 12 May 2022

Cannabis-based medicinal products were classed as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 from 1 November 2018. This means they are available on prescription.

Most of the products are unlicensed medicines in the UK, apart from some products with a marketing authorisation, which are licensed for certain conditions.

Although many medicines prescribed in the NHS are unlicensed, particularly those prescribed for children, treating patients with unlicensed medicines poses a higher risk than with a licensed medicine as they may not have been assessed for safety, quality, and efficacy.

The prescribing restrictions in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations ensure that patients with clinical needs that can’t be met by licensed medicines have access to these medicines, while also minimising the risks of misuse, harm, and diversion:

  • Unlicensed cannabis-based medicinal products can only be prescribed to treat an appropriate health condition if a referral is made by a specialist doctor on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register.
  • Licensed products can be prescribed by any practitioner with the authority to do so under the 2001 Regulations.