By Emily Ledger
Back in November 2019, Drug Research Body Drug Science caused widespread anticipation as it announced the intent to create the largest medical cannabis registry in Europe. By June 2020, medical cannabis suppliers had been identified and testing of patient pathways ad begun. Now, nine months after its initial announcement, Project Twenty21 is officially live!
What is Project Twenty21?
Project Twenty21 is a patient registry which aims to aid patient access to medical cannabis while simultaneously gathering valuable evidence of its efficacy. The aim of the scheme is to recruit up to 20,000 patients by the end of 2021 – this would make the project the largest of its kind in Europe!
Furthermore, the registry will assess the potential of medical cannabis products in a number of key areas, including:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Substance Use Disorder (as a harm reduction strategy)
- Tourette’s Syndrome
Patients who are enrolled in the registry will be able to access a number of medicinal cannabis products at a subsidised cost for the duration of the scheme. A number of licensed medical cannabis suppliers have announced that they will be providing products for the project.
As of yesterday (4th August 2020) Project Twenty21 is live in the UK. The scheme’s first patient was confirmed to have received a subsidised prescription for medicinal cannabis products.
Access to Medical Cannabis through Project Twenty21
Project Twenty21 has teamed up with a number of private clinics – the first being Medical Cannabis Clinics – with more expected to join the scheme. To be enrolled in Project Twenty21, patients must have been diagnosed with one or more of the listed medical conditions. In addition, it must be documented that treatment with at least two other licensed medications have been inefffective in the past.
Drug Science has announced that a number of varying medical cannabis products will be available to patients participating in the project. These products include THC-only medications, CBD-only medications, and a combination of the two cannabinoids. More information on what products are available through the scheme can be found on the Drug Science website.
Choosing a Clinic and Accessing Products
However, only a percentage of the cost of these products will be subsidised by the scheme. The remaining amount will need to be paid for by the patient. In addition, clinics remain in control of consultation fees prior to the prescription of any products. Consultations are not for diagnosing health conditions, but to determine whether medical cannabis could be a viable treatment option for an already diagnosed condition.
Potential participants of Project Twenty21 are reminded that more clinics are expected to be added to the registry in the future.
Medical Cannabis in the UK
Despite human’s history of medicinal cannabis use for thousands of years, the drug was internationally prohibited in the 20th century. However, since then, a growing number of countries have again begun to assess the medicinal potential of the plant and its derivatives.
In November 2018, the UK government announced that cannabis was to be rescheduled from schedule 1 to schedule to of the Misuse of Drugs Act. This move meant that specialist doctors in the UK would be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines. However, since legalisation, access to medical cannabis in the UK has remained extremely low, with no prescriptions being granted by the NHS in this time.
It is hoped that evidence gathered through Project Twenty21 will aid the process of improving patient access to medical cannabis products in the near future.