It’s a mistake not to let GPs prescribe cannabis – UK expert

Neurologist Professor Mike Barnes wrote the report which convinced UK lawmakers to legalise medical cannabis last year, and now he has some advice for New Zealand lawmakers.

"The priority by far must be to educate our doctors," the Barnes Report author told Newshub Nation.

He says despite huge demand in the UK, only around 22 patients have actually received medical cannabis, with none of those prescriptions coming through the National Health Service.

He blames a lack of education and lingering stigma over cannabis for doctors reluctance to prescribe cannabis medication.

"We've got to tell our doctors that a) it's really safe and b) that it really does help a huge number of people with chronic conditions."

Prof Barnes will be travelling to New Zealand later this year, sponsored by Helius Therapeutics, to teach a masterclass in medical cannabis to Kiwi physicians and his message is simple - embrace it.

"It's not a cure-all for everything. It’s not a wonder drug. It is another very good and very safe [drug]. That’s the point to emphasise - it's very safe. There are very few risks to cannabis. It does benefit a lot of conditions that are troubling to a lot of people."

The Government released a public discussion document this week outlining proposals for a medical cannabis framework.

After receiving feedback, the Ministry of Health will seek approval from Cabinet on the proposals and draft the proposed medicinal cannabis regulations. 

Newshub Nation.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Newshub Nation is supported by NZ On Air.