The UK’s first specialist medical cannabis clinic has opened in Greater Manchester.
It follows the Government announcement that specialist doctors could prescribe cannabis products to patients for medicinal use from November.
The decisions by medics need to be made on a case-by-case basis and only when the patient has an unmet special clinical need that cannot be met by licensed products.
The clinical director at The Beeches private health centre, next to the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, is Professor Mike Barnes who helped secure the first medicinal cannabis licence for young epilepsy sufferer Alfie Dingley.
Prof Barnes said: “Patients suffering from chronic pain and other serious neurological or psychiatric conditions have been crying out for this kind of life-changing treatment.
“This clinic will represent a lifeline to those who have found other treatments ineffective. This also brings the UK into line with other countries when it comes to pain management.
“The hope is that over time patients all around the country and not just in Manchester will have access to the relief that they need.”
He told The Times newspaper that patients will pay about £200 to see a doctor and then £600 to £700 a month for a private prescription.
Bosses at the clinic say it will provide a lifeline to those experiencing chronic pain, with only four patients successfully accessing such treatment via the NHS despite the change in law.
Dr David McDowell, an independent pain specialist who will run The Beeches, has prescribed medicinal cannabis to Open University student Forzana Nasir, 32, from south London.
Ms Nasir suffers from the genetic condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which leaves her in severe pain and suffering from nausea and vomiting.
Since using medical cannabis she has gone from taking 13 different medications a day to three, said the clinic.
Ms Nasir said: “Having access to this medicine allows me to ease my chronic pain which turns an unbearable day into a manageable day. It has been life-changing for me. I was almost bedbound before this and now I have much greater quality of life.
“It is so important that other patients in the UK who are suffering can have the same opportunity. This clinic opening is a significant step forward for healthcare in this country.”