Intended for healthcare professionals


Cannabis based drugs: GPs will have to manage patients’ expectations, says expert

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 16 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4354

Re: Cannabis based drugs: GPs will have to manage patients’ expectations, says expert

Further to Ian Hamilton’s recommendation that GPs with less experience discuss the issue with other members of the practice team and consult Google Scholar, we write to remind readers in England that NICE and Health Education England (HEE) provide a wealth of evidence resources to inform clinical decisions, and to invite them to contact their local healthcare library and knowledge service.

NICE Evidence search is a search engine which provides access to selected and authoritative evidence in health, social care and public health. It focuses on synthesised secondary evidence. It includes resources from over 800 sources such as the British National Formulary, Clinical Knowledge Summaries, SIGN, the Cochrane Library, Royal Colleges, Public Health England and GOV.UK, with further good quality systematic reviews added by information and knowledge specialists at NICE. It includes systematic reviews on the use of cannabis in treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain and asthma. This service is freely available to everyone in the UK at

NICE also provides access to the Cochrane Library for everyone in England. A search in Cochrane for ‘cannabis medicinal use’ returns articles such as ‘Cannabis‐based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults’ (2018), ‘The medical use of cannabis for reducing morbidity and mortality in patients with HIV/AIDS’ (2013) and ‘Cannabinoids for fibromyalgia’ (2016).

In addition healthcare staff in England have free access to a wealth of specialist healthcare databases and full text journals, purchased by HEE on behalf of the NHS in England and made available online in partnership with NICE. To search these resources at you need an NHS OpenAthens account. Register at

Moreover, NHS-funded healthcare librarians and knowledge specialists can help you search for evidence and provide summarised evidence searches. We encourage practices to contact their local healthcare library. Check if you are unsure who to speak to.

HEE is committed to working with NHS bodies to ensure that all staff can freely access knowledge services and the expertise of healthcare librarians and knowledge specialists. Currently only a third of Clinical Commissioning Groups have access arrangements in place for their staff and member practices. By all means connect to your regional HEE Library Lead for advice. See

Competing interests: We are responsible for the delivery of of the services described in this response.

23 October 2018
Marion Spring
Associate Director Evidence Information Services
Helen Bingham, Sue Lacey-Bryant; HEE
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