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British Cannabis Chronic Pain Study Hits Setbacks

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Plans for the second British medical cannabis study hit the skids after concerns it would “soften” criminal laws against cannabis use

The British have seen many roadblocks on the way to cannabis reform. This is not just when it comes to recreational cannabis. Despite the legalization of the CBD market earlier this month, high THC cannabis remains a political third rail – especially when used for chronic pain.

A recent trial to treat this condition with cannabis, launched by a private Harley Street clinic, has just been dramatically scaled back after it failed to gain the approval of a needed ethics panel.

The plan had been to enroll up to 5,000 patients and allow them to use a tamper-proof inhaler (at a cost of about $350 per month) to consume whole-plant cannabinoids, including THC. After that, the goal was to encourage the National Health Service (or NHS) to finally cover medical cannabis costs for patients suffering from chronic pain.

So far, while it is possible to obtain high THC cannabis in the UK for medical purposes, it is impossible to receive reimbursement for chronic pain – which the government explicitly excluded from coverage.

In the United States, chronic pain is the condition most cited for regular cannabis use.

About 1 in 3 adults in the UK suffers from chronic pain – a condition characterized as severe pain that lasts more than three months.

The Domino Effect

Those who opposed the trial seem less concerned about the health of British citizens, and more about the slippery slope of legalizing more widespread medical use.
The news is significant in that it comes on the heels of news that over 5,000 medical licenses have been issued on the island of Guernsey, where cannabis cultivation, including of the high THC kind, is well underway.

Those who opposed the new British trial specifically noted that medical reform has inevitably led to recreational reform.

Sadly, this newest defeat also means that the British public, even those who are legitimately sick and use the plant to treat medical conditions that are unresponsive to other drugs – still face criminal prosecution for doing so.

As any patient who relies on THC to treat chronic pain knows, CBD flower is a poor substitute. While many use CBD to take the most extreme edge off, it is not a long-term solution.

As of today, only Project TWENTY21 dispenses medical cannabis as part of a widespread trial in the UK.