Cannabis and Health

4 November 2019

Biggest Medical Cannabis Trial Set for UK

20000 Patients to Take Part in Research

In what seems sure to be a critical juncture in the fight to legitimise medical cannabis, it has been reported that up to 20,000 patients in the UK will take part in the single most significant piece of medicinal cannabis research ever undertaken in Europe. 

Over a two year period, thousands of patients in the UK will take part in the ambitious project (to be known as ProjectTwenty21), which is expected to create the largest body of evidence on cannabis efficacy to date. An announcement on the exciting initiative, which is being backed by one of the countries leading medical institutions, is expected by the end of the week.

One of the most ambitious programs undertaken,  the medical cannabis trial comes as a major boost for the cannabis industry as patients in the UK continue to be denied access to medical cannabis, despite recent changes in UK cannabis law. If the research proves to be successful, it is hoped that it will finally add some serious weight to the growing cannabis movement, especially in the UK where, despite increased legality, medical cannabis is still largely unavailable for most. 

While many countries are now experiencing the benefits of legal cannabis as evidence on the drug becomes readily available, the UK continues to lag behind, unable to establish a medicinal cannabis market for those who truly need it. 

Professor David Nutt, an esteemed member of the independent scientific body Drug Science, the organisation responsible for the launch of Project Twenty21, revealed his dissatisfaction with the current cannabis climate in the UK. 

“Patients are left untreated, in significant debt from the cost of private prescriptions, or criminalised as they are forced to turn to the black market. They don’t deserve any of this, and the situation with prescribing desperately needs to change.” he explained to The Guardian.

The project – which will be launched at, and is being supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) – who aim to create the largest body of evidence ever established on the benefits of medical cannabis. It is their hope that the research will ultimately convince governments and policymakers that cannabis should be made as widely available, and affordable, as other approved prescription medications that exist today. With the research taking place over a twoyear period, and involving over 20000 UK patients,  evidence on the drug will dramatically increase and should aid further loosening of cannabis law across the planet.

Since medical cannabis legalisation came into force in the UK in November of 2018, virtually no-one in the country has been able to take advantage of the plants increased legality despite far greater levels of knowledge and understanding of its remarkable versatility. Indeed, despite the changes in cannabis law, most doctors in the UK have been reticent to prescribe the drug due to concerns over the lack of detailed, high-quality research that has been made available. While CBD products are now available in a host of high-street shops across the land, access to medical cannabis remains virtually impossible for most people in the UK. 

However, Project Twenty21 will, in greater detail than ever before, analyse the drug’s effects on patients who have either chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder or who have a history of substance misuse. It is hoped that with a greater understanding of cannabis potentially therapeutic benefits, greater and easier access to legal cannabis will become more readily available in the near future. 

President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), Wendy Burns, revealed her hopes for the scheme:

“The RCP hopes this project will address the paucity of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicinal products in all health settings, including mental health,” 

“We hope that this project, along with other research such as more much-needed randomised control trials, will continue to build the evidence on CBMPs”.

It is estimated that up to 28 million people in the UK will, at some point in their life, suffer from chronic pain.

“Data from several countries reveal that medical cannabis has benefited several thousands of patients,” said Dr Arun Bhaskar, president of the British Pain Society. “There are more than eight million people with disabling chronic pain in the UK, and medical cannabis is still out of reach for them. Trials like Project Twenty21 could provide evidence for safely and effectively prescribing these medicines that have the potential to provide pain relief and other life-changing benefits for some of these patients.”

The Future is Green

Clearly, the expected announcement will be a massive boost for the medical cannabis industry if it succeeds in its mission to create Europe´s largest body of evidence on cannabis. While the plants legal status has undoubtedly improved in recent years, it remains an indisputable truth that medical cannabis remains an agonisingly distant solution for many suffering from a number of health conditions, including those already mentioned. With greater knowledge of the plant`s potential health benefits, it seems implausible that the continued lack of access to medicinal cannabis in the U.K will continue. 

While many bridges have been crossed in cannabis fight for a clearer path to human understanding and legitimacy, the road remains fraught with stigmas, misinformation and closed-mindedness. If the UK medicinal cannabis market is to overcome these challenges, it will certainly be through the detailed, accurate and groundbreaking research conducted by groups like Drug Science.  Thanks to the efforts of many brave pioneers, a new climate of medicinal cannabis understanding, acceptance and liberty is finally entering our horizon.

If you want to learn about growing cannabis and how the plant can be used to treat a whole host of medical conditions, please visit our growing community. 

Post author
Ryan Allan
Ryan is a 37-year-old British writer and editor, serving as content manager for Coffeeshop Guru. A passionate advocate of medical and recreational cannabis, Ryan is determined to see a future of pure and unfettered cannabis legality.
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