Thousands Of UK Patients Will Be Given Cannabis In Groundbreaking Study

The UK’s first large-scale cannabis study and biggest marijuana health investigation in European history has been announced, raising hopes that many of the country’s health professionals will finally be swayed on the efficacy of the drug for use in treating seven different health conditions.

Substance reform organization Drug Science is administering the investigation, which is called Project TWENTY21. Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, previously of the University of Bristol, will be in charge of the study, which will examine cannabis’ effects on chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder, and substance abuse.

Earlier this year, media reports found that many UK hospitals were refusing to recommend medical cannabis based on “the risk of serious side effects.” Pain management clinic staff members were quoted saying, “We would welcome high-quality studies into the use of cannabis-based medicinal products for pain treatment.”

All the more reason to be excited about the Project TWENTY21 study, which will fund medical cannabis treatment for 20,000 patients by the end of 2021. The project has previously announced that it will be doing work in the fields of prison population harm reduction and the use of cannabis as a counterweight to drug addiction.

 

“I believe cannabis is going to be the most important innovation in medicine for the rest of my life,” commented Nutt. “There are children who have died in this country in the last couple of years because they haven’t had access to cannabis. It’s outrageous, it’s unnecessary and we want to rectify it.”

Although Health England has been extremely slow to endorse cannabis as medication, Project TWENTY21 has the co-sign of the British Pain Society, United Patients Alliance, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

“The College welcomes this pilot project which it hopes will make an important contribution towards addressing the paucity of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicinal products,” commented the institution’s president Wendy Burn.

“We hope that this project, along with other research such as more much-needed [randomized] control trials, will continue to build the evidence on [cannabis-based medicinal products],” she continued.

Cannabis in the UK

It’s not the only cannabis study being conducted in the UK. University of Westminster researchers recently released the results of an investigation that concluded CBD could be a useful tool in the fight against antibiotics resistance, which currently costs the lives of some 5,000 people in England every year, according to the country’s public health agency.

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since October 2018. But the issue of medical marijuana has been of much debate in the country, its urgency exacerbated by the mounting problem of opioid addiction.

A prime motivator in the case of Great Britain has been the drug’s efficacy when it comes to sick kids. Young people like eight-year-old epilepsy patient Alfie Dingley and five-year-old Indie-Rose Montgomery, whose cannabis oil to treat her seizures was confiscated at London Stansted Airport in July, have shown the public how the issue is affecting fellow Brits.

 

By The Green Miles Buds

Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Patients Are Finding Costs of Cannabis Too High

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Three months after medical marijuana became available in Louisiana, doctors and clinics say some patients are finding the cost for therapeutic cannabis too high for treatment, pricing them out of a medication they waited years to obtain.

Nine pharmacies dispense medicinal-grade pot and set their individual prices. Dispensary owners say their charges reflect an industry with startup charges, small patient numbers and lengthy regulatory hurdles to meet.

In August, Louisiana became the first Deep South state — and one of more than 30 states nationwide — to dispense medical marijuana, four years after state lawmakers agreed to give patients access. Now, the state is grappling with the growing pains of a new medical market and a patient group that can’t use health insurance to cover costs.

Kathryn Thomas, CEO of The Healing Clinics, said a third of the medical marijuana patients across its five clinics in Shreveport, Monroe, Baton Rouge, Houma and Lafayette can’t foot the bill for the product.

“They can’t afford ongoing treatment,” Thomas said. “It’s becoming the program for the elite.”

The only cannabis currently available comes in a flavored liquid tincture, a bottle containing a dropper to use. One bottle can range from about $90 to $220, depending on concentration and pharmacy, according to medical marijuana advocates.

Dr. Victor Chou, who has a medical marijuana clinic in Baton Rouge with more than 600 patients, said many of his patients take a dosage of about one bottle per month and are finding relief from chronic conditions. But one-quarter of his patients, Chou said, can’t afford the medication.

“The average chronic pain patients would be spending maybe $1,000 a month at current prices for what they need,” he said.

About 3,500 people have received medical marijuana since the program began, according to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Under state law, Louisiana is allowing cannabis to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

“We’re now working through the real kinks of a startup business and industry,” said Jesse McCormick, with the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives representing the nine dispensaries. “They’re just like everybody else out here, trying to stay open and keep the lights on.”

Only the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow medical marijuana.

GB Sciences, LSU’s grower, is the only one currently providing product. John Davis, president of GB Sciences Louisiana, wouldn’t disclose its wholesale prices, but said pharmacies determine their own markups.

McCormick said the pharmacies have higher tax liabilities and banking costs than other businesses, and he said some Louisiana dispensaries built facilities and carried costs for months with no income waiting for cannabis products.

“I finally came up with our prices the night before we opened. It really was based on our expenses and what we had spent and lost, and what we needed to recover in five years,” said Doug Boudreaux, a pharmacist and co-owner of the Shreveport medical marijuana dispensary Hope Pharmacy.

Pharmacies say if they get more patients, prices will go down. They say any addition of new products also will help, such as plans to offer dissolving strips taken by mouth and topical creams.

Doctors and patients hope the addition of a second grower would drive down costs.

Southern’s grower, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, is setting up operations, with plans to have medical marijuana on pharmacy shelves next year. Ilera CEO Chanda Macias said the company will have a manufactured-suggested retail price for products and will stress customer affordability to pharmacies.

Chou’s hopeful the cost difficulties some patients are having will be addressed.

“I want to be clear: there are a lot of people who are getting a really, really good benefit out of this. I have many people who tell me they’ve been totally pain free for the first time in years,” he said.

By Green Miles Buds

Kentucky May Soon Legalize Medical Marijuana

House Bill 136 is Kentucky’s best chance at legalizing medical marijuana. And after gathering momentum throughout 2019, it will be one of the first bills on the legislative agenda in 2020. State Representative Jason Nemes, the bill’s primary co-sponsor, is confident he has the support of enough of his colleagues in the Legislature to move the legalization measure forward with a full vote. Kentucky is one of just 17 U.S. states that do not authorize any medical use of marijuana.

Yet public support for marijuana policy reform is at an all-time high among Kentucky voters, with over 80 percent in favor of a legal medical cannabis program and a majority in favor of recreational legalization. Rep. Nemes and HB 136 co-sponsor Rep. Diane St. Onge say their proposal would provide relief to more than 60,000 Kentuckians living with severe medical conditions.

Legislators Will Vote on Medical Marijuana Bill in Early 2020

Republican state Reps. Nemes and St. Onge’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky isn’t going to make it out of committee this year. But that doesn’t mean the bill is dead. To the contrary, HB 136 tallied important legislative victories in 2019. In March, Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee, which has historically stymied marijuana reform bills, voted 16-1 to advance HB 136.

After clearing that key hurdle, Kentucky lawmakers began to pay closer attention to the proposal. Now, Rep. Nemes, who filed HB 136 for the first 2020 legislative session on Friday, says he has already received commitments from more than 60 House Representatives to vote in favor. 60 votes would secure the majority needed to pass HB 136. If the bill passes in the House, it would move on to the upper chamber and, if successful there, would then head to the desk of Gov. Matt Bevin.

Gov. Bevin has signaled that he would support a medical marijuana legalization bill, but only if the proposal was not primarily geared to generate revenue for the state. “You raise any money, you’re raising it off the back of sick people,” Bevin said after the Judiciary Committee vote.

Instead, proponents of medical marijuana legalization hope it can help address the state’s deepening opioid crisis and serve patients whose conditions aren’t responding to conventional treatments. But Gov. Bevin’s comments have pulled the rug out from under the tax revenue-generating argument commonly deployed to convince policymakers to adopt legalization measures.

Will HB 136’s Tight Restrictions Put Patients First?

Instead, the most persuasive arguments in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky have come from patients themselves. March’s 16-1 House Judiciary Committee vote came after a two-hour long hearing which included testimony from patients longing for access to legal cannabis. And in September, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky held a statewide public forum where patients and medical specialists debated the issue of legalization.

No doubt, skepticism about the medical value of cannabis and the efficacy of legal cannabis programs is strong in Kentucky. But Rep. St. Onge feels that “we are not serving the Commonwealth and her citizens well by ignoring this large population of people who cannot find any comfort.” Nevertheless, St. Onge and Nemes have also described their legalization proposal as one of the strictest in the nation. Their bill would only authorize capsules, pills and topicals, while banning home cultivation.

HB 136 would also approve medical cannabis treatments only for patients suffering from “debilitating illnesses and excruciating pain.” States that have attempted to impose similar restrictions on their medical cannabis programs have faced legal challenges, and many have ended up expanding qualifying conditions and loosening restrictions to keep programs afloat.

Despite these criticisms, and perhaps because of them, Kentucky’s House of Representatives appears ready to approve HB 136 early next year, putting Kentucky patients with severe conditions that much closer to legal medical cannabis.