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Catch up on the UK Patient Conference

Drug Science Panel Discussion

Watch some of the day’s highlights

The first UK Patient Conference took place during Medical Cannabis Awareness Week on Friday 4th November 2022. It was a unique event bringing together patients, doctors, industry partners, and many more to share their experience with medical cannabis. We welcomed a vibrant community from all around the world, dedicated to learning more about this essential medication and what can be done to make it more accessible.

For anyone unable to make it to London on the day, or for anyone who would like to re-watch the discussions, we have everything here to watch back for free.

Legacy Cannabis vs Prescribed Cannabis


Kirsty Morrisson – Cancard

Emily Carkeet – Parent of patient

Clark French – Patient & Activist

Alexandra Carstea – Carer of Cancer Patient & Activist in Romania

Dr Sunil Arora – Consultant Pain Specialist

Hosted by Anuj Desai – The Cannabis Conversation podcast

Despite what some doctors or even police officers believe, medical cannabis has been legal and available on prescription since 2018. Unfortunately, the legal market does not fully satisfy patients’ needs. This panel welcomes them to share their experience of sourcing their medication.

Some of the points made include there not being enough choice, reportedly poor quality of some products, as well as a lack of expertise among doctors who have not been trained on the variety of available cannabis strains. With all this in mind, the panellists discuss that patients who require consistency in their treatment are often forced to go back to the legacy market. This might offer more product variety, and in some cases illegal suppliers are very well-informed and take great risks to help their clients.

The prescription route is keeping people out of jail but still lacks expertise patient care. Private prescriptions are also very expensive, putting even more pressure on patients and their families. For most, however, it is the only option due to the terrifying potential consequences of sourcing their medication illegally.

Things have to change. Lack of quality or being in a constant state of stress is not creating a suitable environment for people to heal. Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain are only a few examples of serious conditions that can be treated or at least alleviated by medical cannabis. Patients on our panel talk about going from a mix of several opioids to only being prescribed cannabis – one mighty plant that, despite not being prescribed on the NHS, has been proven to be safe to use.

Prescribing cannabis: clinicians’ perspectives


Dr Dani Gordon – Integrative medical doctor & cannabis expert

Dr Niraj Singh – Consultant Psychiatrist

Kevin Stevens – Patient in PLEA working group

Sophie Hayes – Nurse at Integro Clinics

Katya Kowalski – Volteface

Hosted by Mary Biles – Cannabis Voices podcast host

The “war on drugs” narrative that cannabis causes psychosis and destroys lives has dominated over recent decades. Despite evidence to prove the contrary, we still hear echoes of such stigma around the medical community. This panel introduces us to the difficulties doctors face in prescribing medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, medical cannabis was legalised in 2018 without educating clinicians. Consequently, there is still very limited trust in the medication, despite the research confirming its safety and efficacy. It also means the 0.5% of professionals who decide to prescribe it often feel overwhelmed by the lack of advice around which products to use, in which format, and quantity.

The more open-minded doctors, however, put trust in their patients, who are often themselves incredibly well-informed about cannabis. Collaborating in this way allows for more personalised treatments and builds a unique relationship between the patient and clinician. Watch the full panel to learn more about the barriers to prescribing medical cannabis.

‘Anything Can Happen’ panel discussion


Prof Mike Barnes – Consultant Neurologist

Dr Jen Anderson – Family Physician & medical cannabis prescriber

Sydney Anderson – Sister of Nicholas, patient

Chase Gouthro – Film maker & Director of documentary ‘Anything Can Happen’

Hosted by Hannah Deacon – Patient advocate & Maple Tree consultant

During the conference, we screened “Anything Can Happen”, a new documentary film from Canada. It follows the journey of Dr. Jen Anderson’s son Nicholas who has a diagnosis of intractable epilepsy. Having failed all traditional treatments, Dr. Anderson battled bureaucracy, stigma, and apathy as she sought care for her suffering son with CBD oil.

The stories of the families whose lives have transformed as a result of medical cannabis treatment are more powerful than any piece of legislation. Things are changing only due to the brilliant patient community that’s fighting the system by sharing their experiences and their emotions.

Nicholas, who has been given no chance of a normal life, has gone from daily seizures to complete remission thanks to his mother fighting for the right to treat her child with the plant. Unfortunately, despite stories like this and vast scientific evidence, many paediatricians still believe medical cannabis not to be safe for children. Moreover, those doctors who do break through the stigma and decide to prescribe are often ostracised by the medical community or stopped by funding issues.

Watch the full panel to learn more about the documentary and the journey of Nicholas, Levi, Emma and Vincent whose lives have changed dramatically for the better thanks to cannabis.

Prescribed Cannabis Products – choice, availability and supply


Matt Hughes – Medcan Support Founder & Co-Director

Dr Callie Seaman – Aqualabs

Arjun Rajyagor – Sana Life

Dr Mark Smith – GP prescriber

Rosie Pryer-Vaz – Project Twenty21 patient

Hosted by Anuj Desai – The Cannabis Conversation podcast

This panel discussed the cannabis prescription market. Our experts included suppliers, doctors, and patients all sharing their experiences.

There are still numerous gaps to fill within the legal UK market. Compared to the legacy (illicit) market, it still only offers a limited choice of products and a lack of consistency and quality. The choice products the patients can access is largely driven by availability rather than efficacy and individual needs, despite the high cost of the treatment.

Why is this? Because politicians still treat medical cannabis as a dangerous illegal drug instead of an essential medication. Despite scientific evidence from all around the world, they refuse to trust research from outside of the UK. Then this distrust and consequent lack of licensing and funding prove very difficult to conduct the necessary research in our own country, and so we get caught in a vicious circle fuelled by bureaucracy and conservative views that ignores the people who need access to this medicine the most.

Watch this panel to learn more about the prescribed cannabis products currently available.

The Lived Experience of a Medical Cannabis Patient


Claire Bywalec – Project Twenty21 patient

Jeremy Roth – Patient

Julie Durrans – Patient

Mohammad Wasway – Patient & Founder of Sanskara platform

Jane Hinchliffe – Patient

Hosted by Mary Biles – Cannabis Voices podcast host

Our last panel provided space for patients to talk about their experience using medical cannabis. The conclusion was equivocal: the plant changes lives and stops people from living in the shadow of their diagnosis. There are, however, still numerous obstacles to accessing the treatment.

The prescription market lacks quality and expertise, so many people end up having to source their medication illegally and so fear for their safety and that of their families.

Sadly, even with a legal prescription, patients are often stopped by the police when consuming their medication. This is especially true for those from ethnic minority backgrounds. This makes consuming cannabis very difficult in public, isolating them, and denying them the right to a normal life. Watch the panel to learn more about what we as a community are fighting for.

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