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The Cannabis Report: Monthly News

From stories making mainstream headlines in the UK, to regulatory developments across Europe, 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.

 

UK medical cannabis makes front-page splash

 

Our own Hannah Deacon was featured in an Observer Magazine cover story this month, highlighting the current situation in regards to medical cannabis in the UK.

 

As well as going behind the scenes at one of Britain’s domestic growing facilities, the article examined the barriers preventing patients—and in particular those with childhood epilepsy—from accessing these medicines on the NHS.

 

Hannah told the Observer:

“It’s the stories of children like Alfie who helped change the law…and now these kids are the ones unable to benefit. Those who can afford to have gone private, paying up to £2,000 a month. Others have turned to the illegal market. Now the only two doctors who were prescribing privately have shut their books.”

 

Calls for clarity in CBD sector

 

On Monday 19 February, The Times reported on the need for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to provide urgent clarity for companies in the CBD sector. It comes following the publication of new guidance in October last year in which it dramatically reduced the recommended daily dose of CBD to no more than 10 mg per day.

 

The FSA has also confirmed that no products have been authorised for sale under Novel Food regulations, with several brands highlighting the impact this has had on their business and others suggesting it has halted investment in UK brands.

 

UK’s first carbon-neutral cannabis facility

 

UK medical cannabis firm, Glass Pharms, was also in the Guardian this month, having completed construction on its £20m carbon negative cultivation facility.

 

The 2.4 hectare facility is powered in a closed loop system by an adjoining anaerobic digestion plant run on supermarket and household food waste that also provides heat and carbon dioxide. All of the water used for cultivation is collected from rainwater, which is treated and reused.

 

Glass Pharms is now in commercial production, with its first products expected to be on the market in Q1 of 2024.

 

Cannabis Industry Council pledges support for veterans

 

The CIC has joined over 11,000 other organisations across the country in signing the Armed Forces Covenant, which pledges to support the UK’s military community and veterans.

 

By signing this, the CIC has committed to supporting the employment of veterans, advocating for access to vital medicines and providing outreach to help educate veterans of the medicines legally available to them to help improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

 

The organisation will also participate in and support national events such as Armed Forces Day, Reserves Day, the Poppy Appeal Day and Remembrance activities.

  

Ukraine legalises medical cannabis

 

On Tuesday 13 February, less than a year after the bill’s first reading in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), President Vladamir Zelensky signed the legislation permitting the prescription of cannabis-based medicines for conditions including pain, cancer and PTSD.

 

Both President Zelensky and Health Minister Viktor Liashko have publicly expressed their support for the change in law, claiming it could help those affected by the ongoing war. It is estimated that up to six million people are now living with not only PTSD and other mental health issues.

 

Spain publishes draft medical cannabis framework

 

The Spanish Ministry of Health has published a draft Royal Decree with which intends to approve the regulation of medical cannabis in the country.

 

In January, the new Health Minister, Mónica García reaffirmed her commitment to establishing a medical cannabis framework in the country, more than a year after it was initially scheduled to be rolled out. Organisations and individual citizens have until 4 March to submit their comments on the proposals.

 

Bedrocan opens cannabis research facility

 

The Netherlands’ based medical cannabis producer, Bedrocan, has established its own Clinical Research Unit to study the effects of its cannabis products on behalf of the Dutch government, after years of supporting external researchers financially.

 

The first study, which has already received ethics approval, will aim to determine the risk factors of cannabis use and serve as a guide to patients on how to use these products safely. A more comprehensive future research programme is expected to explore cannabis in other conditions, such as chronic neuropathic pain.


Curaleaf International acquires Polish medical cannabis company

 

London-based Curaleaf International, a subsidiary of New York-headquartered multistate operator Curaleaf Holdings, announced the acquisition of Polish medical cannabis company Can4Med, for an undisclosed sum.

 

The move is said to underscore Curaleaf’s commitment to growing patient access to medical cannabis products across Europe. In 2023, more than 3,000 kilograms of medical cannabis was distributed in Poland, according to the company.

 

European Pharmacopoeia publishes cannabis flower monograph

 

The new European Pharmacopoeia monograph on Cannabis flower (3028) has been officially published in Ph. Eur. Supplement 11.5.

 

A number of additional requirements are reported to have been added, following its pre-publication on the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM), Council of Europe website in October 2023. These include changes in the limits for content, in the production section, and in the tests for foreign matter and heavy metals (when being prescribed medicinally).

 

New app aims to streamline UK prescription process

 

Script Assist has launched a new ‘Find a Doctor’ feature in its app, to make it easier for patients to find a specialist doctor prescribing medical cannabis in the UK. Patients can select a doctor based on the conditions they treat and their location and the app then also allows them to manage the entire prescribing process in one place.

 

Patients also have the option to use their private health insurance to cover the cost of the consultation if the selected doctor is covered by their particular insurance policy.

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