In what seems sure to be a critical juncture in the fight to legitimise medical marijuana, it has been reported that up to 20,000 patients in the UK will take part in the single most significant piece of medicinal cannabis research ever undertaken in Europe.
Over a two year period, thousands of patients in the UK will take part in the ambitious cannabis study(to be known as ProjectTwenty21), which is expected to create the largest body of evidence to date on the effect of cannabis on a range of conditions. An announcement on the clinical studies which are being backed by one of the countries leading medical institutions is expected shortly.
One of the most ambitious pieces of clinical research to date, the medical marijuana trial comes as a significant boost for the cannabis industry as patients in the UK continue to be denied access to medical cannabis, despite recent changes in UK cannabis law.
If the research proves to be successful, it is hoped that it will finally add some serious weight to the growing cannabis movement, especially in the UK where, despite increased legality, medical marijuana is still largely unavailable for most.
The UK Continues to lag Behind in Cannabis Access
While many countries are now experiencing the benefits of relaxed marijuana laws as evidence on cannabis and cannabinoids becomes readily available, the UK continues to lag, unable to establish a medicinal cannabis market for those who genuinely need cannabis-based therapeutic alternatives.
Indeed, despite the emergence of cannabidiol CBD and medicinal extracts in the UK with cannabis-based drugs approved to treat conditions like Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, access to legalised marijuana and cannabis extracts remains frustratingly out of reach for many.
Professor David Nutt, an esteemed member of the independent scientific body Drug Science, the organisation responsible for the launch of Project Twenty21, revealed his dissatisfaction with the current cannabis climate in the UK.
“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,” he explained to The Guardian.
The project – which will be launched at, and is being supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), will evaluate the effects of medical marijuana with the hope of creating the largest body of scientific research on the safety and efficacy of the plant to date. They hope that the huge observational study will ultimately convince governments and policymakers that cannabis should be made as widely available, and affordable, as other approved prescription medications that exist today.
With the observational study taking place over a two-year period and involving over 20000 UK patients, evidence on the potential medical uses of cannabis should dramatically increase with the study to evaluate a wealth of health conditions. If the study is a success, it could help to aid further loosening of cannabis law across the planet.
Since medical cannabis legalisation came into force in the UK in November of 2018, virtually no-one in the country has been able to take advantage of the plant’s increased legality despite far greater levels of knowledge and understanding of its remarkable versatility, efficacy and safety.
Indeed, despite the changes in marijuana laws, most doctors in the UK have been reticent to prescribe the drug due to concerns over the lack of detailed, high-quality research that has been made available. While cannabidiol CBD products are now available in a host of high-street shops across the land, access to medical marijuana and cannabis extracts remains virtually impossible for most people in the UK.
However, Project Twenty21 will, in greater detail than ever before, analyse the drug’s beneficial effects with the study to evaluate the impact of cannabis-based medicine on conditions including chronic neuropathic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, posttraumatic stress disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.
It is hoped that with a greater understanding of medical marijuana’s potentially therapeutic benefits, more significant and easier access to medical marijuana in the UK will become more readily available in the near future.
The Future is Green
The expected announcement will be a massive boost for the medical cannabis industry if it succeeds in its mission to create Europe’s largest body of evidence on cannabis and cannabinoids including the full effects of THC and other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN.
While the plant’s legal status has undoubtedly improved in recent years, it remains an indisputable truth that medical marijuana remains an agonisingly distant solution for many patients suffering from several health conditions. With greater knowledge of the plant’s potential health benefits, it seems implausible that the continued lack of access to medicinal cannabis in the UK will continue.
With so many potentially exciting and landscape changing cannabis medicines now being developed, it is only right that the UK embarks on more detailed, and in-depth clinical research of cannabis-based medicinal products and the full effects of cannabinoids in order to fully understand their safety and efficacy as well as their full effects on the endocannabinoid system.
While many bridges have been crossed in cannabis fight for a clearer path to human understanding and legitimacy, the road remains fraught with stigmas, misinformation and closed-mindedness. If the UK medicinal cannabis industry is to overcome these challenges, it will undoubtedly be through the detailed and groundbreaking clinical studies conducted by groups like Drug Science. Thanks to the efforts of many brave pioneers and cannabis researchers, a new climate of medicinal cannabis understanding, acceptance and liberty is finally entering our horizon.
If you want to learn more about the potentially beneficial effects of cannabis or cannabinoids and the medical uses of marijuana, please visit our news section for all the latest in the cannabis world.