Interim policy position: cannabis-based medicinal products

Page last updated: 12 May 2022
Organisations we regulate

Published: 31 October 2019

Today we published our registration requirements for providers who may prescribe cannabis-based medicinal products.

In November 2018, the law changed to allow cannabis-based medicinal products to become Schedule 2 controlled drugs, making them available on prescription. Most cannabis-based medicinal products are unlicensed medicines in the UK, apart from some products with a marketing authorisation, which are licensed for certain health conditions. 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 government has introduced regulatory restrictions on accessing unlicensed cannabis-based medicinal products, which means they can only be prescribed by specialist doctors on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register.

The prescribing restrictions set out in regulations also ensure that access to these medicines is available to patients with clinical needs that cannot be met by licensed medicines, while minimising the risks of misuse, harm and diversion.

Although there is currently only a very small number of prescriptions for cannabis-based medicinal products, we are aware of some prescribing in the NHS, and of clinics being set up in the independent sector. Draft guidance from NICE and a review by NHS England have highlighted a need for more research on cannabis-based medicinal products. In the interim, our policy position sets out what CQC requires of any registered providers and prospective registrants.

Specialist doctors who work in independent healthcare must register with CQC for the regulated activity of treatment of disease, disorder and injury. If they intend to prescribe and treat patients with cannabis-based medicinal products, they must be able to provide assurance and demonstrate that they deliver safe and effective care in line with relevant legislation and guidance.