By Emily Ledger
In the first year of rescheduling, the UK’s medical Cannabis industry has left much to be desired. Campaigners and patients have been vocal about their disappointment in the current lack of access and research. However, a new medical Cannabis study may provide the evidence needed to improve patient access to the medication.
Up to 20,000 patients in the UK will be taking part in the largest body of collective evidence in Europe. The study, named Project Twenty21, will be carried out by the independent scientific body, Drug Science. It is also backed by one of the leading medical bodies in the country – the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Of the 20,000 patients to participate in the study, a large selection of conditions and illnesses will be represented. Project Twenty21 will assess the effects of Cannabis-based medical products on patients who suffer from chronic pain; epilepsy; multiple sclerosis; post-traumatic stress disorder; anxiety disorders; Tourette’s syndrome; and those with a history of substance misuse.
Access to medical Cannabis products has remained extremely low, despite the over a year of medical legalisation. Only 12 patients received a prescription for medical Cannabis, in the eight months following the law change.
Professor David Nutt from Drug Science claimed:
“Patients are left untreated, in significant debt from the cost of private prescriptions, or criminalised as they are forced to turn to the black market. They don’t deserve any of this, and the situation with prescribing desperately needs to change.”
Project Twenty21 will provide 20,000 patients with subsidised medical Cannabis products, in the hope of providing the desperately needed evidence. The Cannabis study will aim to convince policymakers that the drug should be made widely available as an alternative medication for a wide range of conditions.
Among the most quoted conditions said to benefit from medical Cannabis are chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and rare forms of epilepsy. However, many people believe that the plant may be a viable option for many other conditions, including anxiety and depression disorders, and Dementias.
In the UK, around one in four people suffer from anxiety or depression. Prohibition Partners estimates that there are 52 conditions that are also potentially treatable with medical Cannabis. If this is the case, there may be 4 million patients who may benefit from easier access to medical Cannabis.