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The Cannabis Report: May 24

From stories making mainstream headlines in the UK, to regulatory developments across the globe, catch up on the latest news in the medical cannabis sector with Maple Tree's monthly digest. Sign up at the bottom of the page to receive in your inbox every month.


🇺🇸 Biden Administration confirms rescheduling of cannabis in US


History was made on 16 May, as President Biden confirmed he was accepting the DEA recommendation to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug, marking a major shift in American drug and criminal justice policy.

The move means that cannabis will no longer fall under Schedule I, alongside drugs such as heroin, which are deemed to have no medical use.

With the US having been a primary driver of the ‘war on drugs’, the development could have major repercussions for cannabis policy and public opinion in jurisdictions around the world.


🇬🇧 UK drives new growth in Europe’s medical cannabis market


A new report, published this month by industry analysts, Prohibition Partners, highlights how the UK is the primary driver of new growth in Europe’s medical cannabis market. Sales of medical cannabis were greater than expected due to ‘unusually high’ consumption volumes on a per-patient basis. By the end of 2024, 62,960 patients are forecasted to be using medical cannabis in the UK, generating €240 million (£205 million) in sales.


🇬🇧 FSA issues long-awaited update in Novel Food process


Earlier this month the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued the first two ‘positive safety assessments’ for CBD (cannabidiol) products as part of its Novel Food authorisation process.

Pureis, became the first company in the UK to receive a positive risk assessment for a synthetic CBD application on April 29, 2024. Cannaray similarly received the first ever positive risk assessment for its isolated CBD application, meaning both can now move on to the next stage of authorisation, risk management. It marks the first meaningful development in the UK’s CBD novel food in over a year.


🗺️ UK clinic launches international prescribing service


Integro Clinics is the first UK clinic to expand its services worldwide, in a bid to address the challenges for patients travelling to the UK who need access to cannabis on prescription. Through the Integro International traveller service, patients from overseas can arrange a virtual consultation with a specialist doctor ahead of their trip so that their prescription can be processed in time for their arrival. The process works the same as it would for a UK resident, but prescriptions can be sent to the individuals’ hotel or temporary accommodation.


🇬🇧 EX-GW bosses lead development of new epilepsy drug


Former bosses of cannabis industry giant, GW Pharmaceuticals, are leading the development of a new solid-dose CBD-based drug for the treatment of epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Avata Biosciences, formerly known as Sapient Therapeutics, is progressing towards FDA approval of its lead drug candidate, SAP-021, an orally-administered capsule containing pharmaceutical-grade CBD, which could rival Epidiolex®.

A number of former employees of GW are now holding executive positions at Avata, including CEO Rupert Haynes, who is GW’s former global marketing chief, Chief Medical Director, Dr Andrew Saich and Head of Intellectual Property, Dr Chris Hayes, who are all listed as company directors.


🇬🇧 UK research points to benefits of cannabis is MS and osteoarthritis


New findings using data collected through the UK Medical Cannabis Patient Registry, noted significant improvements in pain severity and overall quality of life in patients prescribed cannabis medicines for osteoarthritis.

In a separate paper, published on 4 May, the researchers conducted a similar analysis of patients prescribed cannabis for the treatment of MS, finding significant improvements in health-related quality of life.


🇬🇧 Release launches new campaign to protect patients

Last month the national centre of expertise on drugs, Release, launched a new initiative recently to help protect the rights of medical cannabis patients in the UK.

Despite medical cannabis being legal in the UK since November 2018, patients continue to have negative experiences with police and other public bodies in regards to their prescription. In response to reports which Release has received through its national helpline, the #ReleaseMyMeds campaign aims to provide support for those patients prescribed medicinal cannabis in the UK. Patients can fill out the questionnaire about their own experiences here.

🇬🇧 OCT delists from London Stock Exchange

This month, UK biotechnology firm Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT), one of the first cannabis companies to list on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), informed investors of its intention to leave. Business of Cannabis reports that since its landmark listing in 2021, OCTs share price has fallen by 97%, seeing its market capitalisation fall to just £1.5m.

According to the company, the decision was made following an ‘internal strategic review exercise’ aimed at determining the most effective way to attract the continued investment it needs to bring its various drug programmes to market.

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