'It transforms lives' - Scotland's first medical cannabis clinic set to open
The Sapphire Clinic, set to open in Aberdeen, will prescribe the plant for all conditions "acknowledged to benefit from the treatment."
The new law moved cannabis from schedule 1 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 - meaning it had no therapeutic value - to schedule 2.
The new clinic has confirmed it is in the "advanced stages" of being officially registered as a clinic.
Dr Michael Platt, Sapphire Clinic's lead on pain said: "The overwhelming majority of these people will have felt they have had no option other than to resort to the black market, and many of them will be deeply troubled by having to do so.
"Sapphire operates to the highest standards of clinical governance so patients can be confident that any prescription of medical cannabis will be done as part of a rigorous and safe process."
While the cost may be higher, he added, the patient will have the benefit of "piece of mind" knowing the cannabis will be legal and of consistent quality.
Managing Director of Sapphire Medical Clinics and Academic Lead Dr Mikael Sodergren said: "We are proud to be opening the first clinic in Scotland and have already seen first-hand how medical cannabis is transforming lives.
"That’s why we are delighted to be opening our doors to patients in Aberdeen.
"It means patients in Scotland will now have access to world-class experts in managing their condition, who also have expertise in medical cannabis."
"But prescription numbers have been low, held down by patients who are often in significant pain or with physical disabilities, being unable to travel the long distances to clinics," he added.
"This in turn has meant building the clinical evidence on patients in the UK has also been slow.
"Our expansion will mean that we can greatly increase the numbers of patients that we see and then crucially accelerate the amount of evidence gathered."
Lorna Bland an existing patient of Sapphire said: "I’ve suffered with Fibromyalgia and Degenerative Disc Disease for years.
"I was initially sceptical about trying medical cannabis. However, after much research I’ve been taking it for 5 months now and the improvement has been significant, with no side effects. I used to be able to only walk 1,000 steps a day at a push and life was very limited. Since securing my access to medical cannabis I can now do between 6,000 to 8,000 steps daily, walk my dog, do housework and socialise with friends. I’m realistic, it’s not a cure, but is effective enough to allow me to start living a more fulfilling life than I have for over 12 years’.
NHS Grampian said in a statement: "There is currently a route of access via the NHS for medicinal cannabis products.
"This is restricted to conditions where there is evidence of benefit or accepted UK guidelines for use. Currently, in Scotland, this only includes complex intractable epilepsy or nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy treatment.
"It is concerning that this private clinic operates on the mechanism of GP referrals, given the treatments used in the clinic would not be available nor recognised by the NHS. There is the risk of significant GP time being utilised to provide clients access to this private healthcare."