New research from Prohibition Partners shows that England is set to become the second-largest European medical cannabis market, as patient numbers and demand continues to grow. Industry experts predict that 2023 will see a significant uptick in patients accessing medical cannabis legally in the UK. 

While more than 89,000 private medical cannabis prescriptions have been made in the UK, there have been fewer than five medical cannabis prescriptions via the NHS.

Mamedica, the UK’s leading cannabis clinic, has conducted research into the nation’s sentiment when it comes to alternative medicine, showing that 16% say they currently avoid the GP so as not to be prescribed stronger medication. This could go some way towards explaining why so many Brits are turning to medical cannabis, especially as 51% of the population say they have lived with a chronic health condition for more than five years and have not found a remedy that works.

The prediction from Prohibition Partners is that patient numbers will exceed 47,000 by the end of 2023 – rising from between 25,000 to 30,000 currently. This comes as the demand continues to rise in Europe, with sales predicted to reach more than €550m ($602.24m) by the end of 2023. The UK and Germany have been identified as the two countries representing the ‘overwhelming majority’ of demand and are expected to receive the majority of new supply in regards to medical cannabis. 

“Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since November 2018, yet its applications are still only recently being discussed publicly,” said Jon Robson, CEO and founder of Mamedica. “For me, it wasn’t until I spent time in California – and visited a medical cannabis dispensary for the first time – that I realised the potential it had to improve the lives of people who were on much stronger medications.”

Since its legalisation for medical purposes in the UK in 2018, the benefits of using cannabis-based prescriptions to treat a range of health conditions have been well-documented, with cannabis-based medicinal products having known benefits relative to sleep hygiene, mood stabilisation and a reduction of neuropathic pain. The two cannabinoids that have garnered the most attention in the field are tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. These are thought to affect pain through various pathways including the endocannabinoid system.

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