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Drug Science launches Working Group on Medical Cannabis

two big jars of cannabis

The UK’s leading independent scientific body on drugs Launched the Drug Science Medical Cannabis Working Group at its House of Lords annual evening reception on Wednesday 22 May 2019. Shortly after this launch, Drug Science released two educational slide sets for health care professionals (HCPs & trainees) that examine the history, law and pharmacology of medical cannabis. It is essential that HCPs learn about the benefits and potential harms of this medicine. These slide sets will enable future HCPs to provide patients with valuable information and help support them in their decisions about their treatment plan.

Drug Science provides an evidence base free from political or commercial influence, creating the foundation for sensible and effective drug laws, by delivering, reviewing and investigating scientific evidence relating to psychoactive drugs.

The working group includes Drug Science experts, patient representatives, policy makers and industry partners, and will develop approaches to improving access of medical cannabis in the UK.

The Drug Science Medical Cannabis Working Group will:

  1. Explore routes to implementation of medical cannabis, such as the creation of special interest clinical groups that can work together using standard diagnostic and outcome protocols to rapidly evaluate the values of medical cannabis in real clinical settings.

  2. Review benefit/risk relationships collected in current medical cannabis jurisdictions e.g. in Canadian, Dutch, Australian and German health authority databases.

  3. Work with health technology experts to develop a detailed model of the cost-benefit of medical cannabis. This will include an assessment of the “hidden” benefits such as the reduction in illicit drug use and reduced costs of opioid and other painkiller medicines to the NHS.

  4. Develop an overview of the current status of medical cannabis in the UK with a comprehensive delineation of the blocks and problems, and with a road map to overcoming these.

  5. Coordinate a series of focus groups with doctors and pharmacists to explore the problems they are currently experiencing with prescribing medical cannabis, with a view to developing ways to overcome them

  6. Conduct a survey of all UK doctors to explore their knowledge of, and attitudes to, medical cannabis.

  7. Develop an information pack for doctors and other medical practitioners on how to prescribe medical cannabis, and how to ensure that they stay within the current regulations on the use of “off-license” medicines

  8. Convene a meeting of medical insurers [MDU and MPS] and related groups [NHS insurers, GMC, BMA] to clarify the regulatory position on medical cannabis to facilitate prescribing in the UK, and produce a report.

  9. Produce a Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) of benefit-safety ratios for medical cannabis products,

The Drug Science Medical Cannabis Working Group will work in collaboration with industry partners Acle Urban Gardens , Alta Flora, Althea, Beckley Cannopy, Cannaray, Cannuba, and Small Pharma.

Drug Science Chief Scientific Officer and Chair of the Scientific Committee Prof David Nutt said:

“As I stated in my recent BMJ article, I believe the medical profession should take a positive proactive approach to medical cannabis, celebrating its potential and identifying its utility, rather than being cautious and conservative as they are at present. The team at Drug Science is committed to being leaders in this goal and supporting all professionals that treat patients in this ambition.”

Drug Science is a leading international voice on the scientific, ethical and political developments regarding medical cannabis.

  1. In 2016 Drug Science’s cannabis report prompted the first WHO cannabis review in over 80 years.

  2. In 2017, Professor David Nutt spent 10 days providing evidence to the South African courts, leading to its decision to reform its cannabis laws.

  3. In 2019, Drug Science held its first symposium Cannabis medicines: from principle to practice. How can we maximise clinical research and benefits?’ in order to move the field forward in the UK – from theory to practice.

For further information on Drug Science, the Medical Cannabis Working Group or to request to attend the launch at the Drug Science House of Lords annual evening reception, please contact David Badcock – Drug Science CEO

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