Mike Barnes – Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation
We are pleased to present Professor Mike Barnes latest view on events since new government legislation on Medicinal Cannabis was passed on 1st November 2018.
In this update from Mike, he discusses the reality of how legislation has been embraced and what changes have actually occurred.
Of significance, is the observation that (at the time of recording this video in mid February 2019) in the three months since medicinal Cannabis was made available in the UK, not a single NHS prescription has been written. In the private sector Mike believes that six prescriptions have been written applicable to pain and epilepsy.
Mike reaffirms that understandably, doctors remain highly cautious after many years during which Cannabis benefits have been doubted, but also perceives that perhaps they lack effective education around Cannabis. He advises that training and education is available (at www.TMAMC.org) with various modules to learn about the endo-cannabinoid system, the use and dosage, indications for different conditions, research evidence and other useful information.
However guidelines issued by organisations such as the Royal College of Physicians and British Paediatric Neurology Association have also undoubtedly contributed to the slow uptake of medicinal Cannabis. The former essentially advises that ‘if all else fails’ it is acceptable to prescribe Cannabis for nausea and vomiting, particularly where related to chemotherapy. However the RCP do not recommend Cannabis for pain, which contradicts evidence and conclusions reached by others including the UK APPG on Drug Policy Reform in 2016, and the UK Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, who both arrived at the opposite conclusion. The BPNA likewise advised that full extract Cannabis products particularly where these contain THC, should not be prescribed, even for those people affected by very severe treatment resistant epilepsy. Mike confirms that whilst more research is needed, this approach is at odds with the case of Alfie Dingley, for whom Cannabis use provided a quite dramatic outcome, moving from many hundreds of weekly seizures, to none at all.
Mike reaffirms that these are however only guidelines and not mandatory.
Mike believes that doctors should, remain cautious, but seek to learn more, understand the interactions, the conditions where evidence exists and approach this issue with an open mind and prescribe Cannabis for conditions where benefit may be derived including those related to epilepsy, pain, certain GI conditions, nausea, vomiting and various other areas where Cannabis can, and should be, prescribed.
Please feel free to add your own video POV on this topic, or comment on Mikes update.
Professor Barnes is Honorary Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the founder and immediate past President of the World Federation of Neurological Rehabilitation, an organisation that seeks to improve the knowledge of, and access to, neurological rehabilitation services around the world. Professor Barnes was responsible for the development of Walkergate Park, International Centre for Neurological Rehabilitation and Neuropsychiatry in Newcastle upon Tyne and developed Hunters Moor Neurological Rehabilitation Centre in Birmingham, now part of the Christchurch Group.
Current Chair of the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF), Professor Barnes has held all three key positions in British rehabilitation medicine – President of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine, Chair of the Royal College of Physicians Rehabilitation Committee and Chair of the Specialist Advisory Committee.
An authority on rehabilitation following a brain injury, more information about Professor Barnes can be found at