Only 27 patients in the Western Trust prescribed cannabis since 2018

Only twenty-seven patients have been prescribed medicinal cannabis in the Western Trust since it was introduced almost three years ago.

The Western Trust advised five patients had been prescribed the drug up until July of this year.

Meanwhile, there were eight prescriptions in 2018, seven in 2019 and seven in 2020.

The local health authority said it was unable to include details about the various conditions involved as this could compromise the confidentiality and anonymity of the small number of patients.

Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid that is used as an antiemetic to reduce vomiting and nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, was the most widely prescribed drug. Twenty-three local patients were prescribed it in the Western Trust over the past three years.

Nabiximols, specifically the brand Sativex, was prescribed to three patients. It can be used to treat the symptoms of Multiple sclerosis.

Tilray’s FS oral cannabis oil was also prescribed to one patient in 2018. Cannabis oil can have beneficial effects for children and adults living with epilepsy.

Cannabis products have only been available on a prescription written by, or recommended by, a specialist hospital doctor, since November 2018.

The Department of Health advises: “This is because there is currently limited scientific evidence medicinal cannabis is safe and effective. It is also because there are relatively few licensed products available that have undergone the normal strict testing for medicines. This testing means that medicines are safe, of good quality, and are effective.”

Doctors will only consider prescribing a cannabis product for you or your child if: your child has one of the rare forms of epilepsy that might be helped by medical cannabis; you have spasticity from MS and treatments for this are not helping; you have vomiting or feel sick from chemotherapy and anti-sickness treatments aren’t helping.