THE initial priorities of the UK Cannabis Industry Council have been identified following a special general meeting attended by around 50 members.
The meeting in Arlington St, next to the Ritz Hotel, London, saw members consider part-funding a university-based cost benefit analysis into the efficacy of the medical cannabis.
A second proposed work stream aims to financially support lobbying activities targeting the UK government to amend regulations around medical cannabis, hemp and CBD.
With a significant swathe of the CIC’s membership frozen out of the discussions due to technical tele-conferencing issues members are to be balloted on the suggested initiatives with decisions expected within two weeks.
Net Zero Cost To NHS
Speaking on the health economic analysis Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, head of the CIC Research sub-group, told attendees it had received a quote from the University of Greenwich for £30,000 and had also sought pricing from the London School of Economics.
CIC Chairman Prof Mike Barnes said: “This is important as we believe it will help prove what we already know – that prescribing cannabis medicine will deliver improved treatment outcomes for patients at a net-zero cost to the NHS.”
Despite cannabis medicine currently being more expensive than NHS-favoured opioids and benzodiazepine, for example, cannabis backers argue the cumulative costs balance when the additional expense of treating addiction and other associated issues are included.
The second proposal involves contributing £5,000 to a lobbying initiative by Mackrell Solicitors and Maple Tree consultants which is focused around a recently-published paper with 10 recommendations for UK Government.
These include; allowing farmers to cultivate hemp flowers, increasing the THC limit for approved hemp seeds, reviewing the 2012 Human Medicines Regulations to allow CBD suppliers to make wellness claims and excluding whole plant hemp extracts from Novel Food regulations.
As well as reviewing the NICE prescribing guidelines to allow GPs to prescribe cannabis medicines.
Medical Cannabis Campaign
The proposals put forward by Prof Barnes suggested an initial contribution of £5,000 from the recently-formed CIC, which now has 109 members.
Earlier in the meeting some of these ’10 key’ priorities were also identified in presentations to attendees on the priorities the CIC’s seven sub-groups.
The Hemp group says it is in conversations with The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) regarding future farming policies.
These will focus on a review of the THC limit in hemp seeds, raising the threshold from 0.2% to 1%. It is also considering commissioning a carbon sequestration research programme, set to cost around £20,000.
James Smith, of 4C Labs, head of the Medical Cannabis sub-group, said one of its aims is to recruit doctors to support a UK-wide awareness campaign.
Based on Guernsey Mr Smith said a similar campaign had seen the Channel Islands boost medical cannabis scripts to 3,200 patients – an impressive ‘one third’ of the current UK private prescription numbers.
He went on to say it aims to pursue a dual focus on the ‘childhood epilepsy crisis’ alongside an ongoing awareness campaign aimed at increasing the number of NHS doctors who prescribe medical cannabis.
“There’s a giant list of things to do and it all starts with general awareness”, he said, adding that ‘eligibility and awareness of eligibility’ are currently the two biggest issues facing the industry.
In a bid to combat doctors’ reluctance or general ignorance of medical cannabis prescriptions, the group aims to also gather and coordinate patient and doctor testimonials, to support a media drive.
In closing the meeting Prof Barnes suggested the CIC look to gather every quarter with late January, early February 2022, earmarked for the next assembly.
For further information on the CIC and how to become a member click here. BusinessCann is a member of the CIC