THE battle to bring medical cannabis into the public spotlight is at the forefront of a national campaign this week.
Medical Cannabis Awareness Week – running from November 1-8 – is calling for the barriers to be broken down so patients can get affordable access to the medication they so desperately need.
The national week is bringing together patients, doctors, supporters and a host of sector organisations, in calling for fair access to medical cannabis on the NHS.
Medical Cannabis Awareness Week is an initiative of PLEA, Patient-Led Engagement for Access, a CIC set up earlier this year, which advocates for medical cannabis to give people the quality of life they deserve.
The group wants patients to be able to access their medication based on their needs and free from the barriers of finance, geographical location and stigma.
PLEA also supports research into the safety and efficacy of cannabis-based medicinal products, to enable evidence-based prescription for all.
Abby Hughes, Outreach Director from PLEA, said: “It’s time to end the inequality and ensure everyone who needs it has the opportunity to benefit from medical cannabis treatment.
“During Medical Cannabis Awareness Week we’re calling for fair access.”
Abby said the week aims to promote medical cannabis education and directly address the stigma being faced by patients.
She said: “Everyone probably knows someone who could benefit from medicinal cannabis. We want people to have conversations about cannabis, ask questions and be open-minded.”
The date for the campaign week was chosen because November 1 is the two-year anniversary since the law changed to allow medical cannabis to be available on the NHS.
However, since then only a handful of people have managed to secure a prescription from the health service, instead, out of desperation, patients are funding private prescriptions – costing several hundreds of pounds a month.
PLEA believes there are also up to 1.4million people being forced to turn to the illegal cannabis market.
Two cards are now being launched, Cancard and MedCannID, which aim to assist medical cannabis patients – those with a valid prescription – if challenged by the police over the legality of their drugs. However, although the cards ask police officers to use their discretion when dealing with cannabis patients who produce them, they are not a protection in law.
During Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, patients from across the UK will share their stories about the life-changing impact of medical cannabis and their difficulties in accessing a prescription.
A host of online events are taking place, including a tour of a legal cannabis growing facility, and there are lots of talks from experts in a variety of fields and information and debates, including about the use of medical cannabis in pediatrics and also in palliative care.
PLEA is calling on people to talk about medical cannabis to friends and family, record and share their own story, write to their MPs and even play medical cannabis bingo.
For all the information and access to the talks and activities visit www.pleacommunity.org.uk/mcaw and people can also stay in touch and join in the conversation by using #MCAW2020 and follow on Twitter and Instagram @PLEA_community.