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

Arizona Announces Adoption Of Digital Medical Marijuana Cards

State regulators in Arizona will begin issuing identification cards in digital form next month, according to a report from cannabis industry website azmarijuana.com. Beginning December 1, the new digital marijuana identification cards will replace the physical cards currently being issued through the mail by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS).

The new digital identification cards will be sent via email to patients. The email will include a PDF version of the identification card which can be accessed when needed or saved on a cellphone or other electronic device. Patients who wish to carry a physical card can print the PDF to keep with them.

“This new process is making it easier for patients to update or change information when necessary, too,” said the AZDHS. “The digital cards can be accessed from a cell phone, laptop, or any other digital device with internet access.”

The agency added that the “AZDHS will email patients of the change to how cards are issued” and that “information will be available to follow up with the new process. The website will be updated with information soon.”

 

Steep Fees for Patients

Adult patients who qualify for Arizona’s medical marijuana program must pay an application fee of $150. Card renewals, which are also subject to the fee of $150, are required every two years. Patients who also qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are eligible for reduced application and renewal fees of $75. Identification cards are also required for a patient’s designated caregiver, if one is desired or necessary, and carry an application fee of $200.

Application fees for medical marijuana patients under 18 run $350, which includes the cost for a required designated caregiver. Fees for pediatric patients who are eligible for SNAP are reduced to $275.

To participate in Arizona’s medical marijuana program, patients must have a physician’s certification that they are being treated for one or more qualifying medical conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, or agitation of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition, or those undergoing treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes severe wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms may also qualify to use cannabis medicinally.

The medical use of cannabis was legalized with the passage of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by voters in November 2010. Earlier this year, a bill to increase the time a medical marijuana identification is valid from one to two years was passed by Arizona lawmakers and signed into law by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. The measure also mandated lab testing for cannabis products to ensure safety.

campaign to place a measure that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Arizona on the ballot for the 2020 general election is currently underway.