Pharmacists will be able to fill prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines faster due to a change in importing regulations.
The change will see licensed companies allowed to bulk-buy and store larger quantities of cannabis-based medicines in the UK.
The Government said this will mean patients getting their prescribed medicines within days rather than weeks or months.
As it stands, patients prescribed medical cannabis have experienced delays, and sometimes interruptions, to their treatment because it could only be imported in amounts that were required for individual prescriptions.
Specialist doctors in the UK can prescribe medical cannabis for rare conditions such as serious forms of epilepsy or multiple sclerosis since the law changed in October 2018.
And pending draft guidance from NICE says GPs could prescribe medical cannabis as part of a shared care agreement, as long as the initial prescription is made by a specialist doctor.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The changes made today are a tremendous step towards improving the supply of cannabis-based medicinal products by helping to ensure quicker and more reliable access for patients.
‘But we still have a long way to go. We need more research into the quality and safety of these medicines, and to do all we can to cut down the costs and remove barriers so that, when appropriate, patients can access it, including on the NHS.’
Licensed wholesalers will now be able to:
- import larger quantities of cannabis-based products
- hold supplies for future use by patients with prescriptions