Both sides of the Atlantic have seen an apparent softening in stance towards the sale of CBD products with long-delayed research contributing to that decision.
In the UK, more than 80 patients have been prescribed CBD oil on the British National Health Service since medical cannabis was legalised in 2018, but campaigners are aggrieved that it hasn’t been much more, as witnessed by a demonstration in London this week.
The UK government’s head of pharmacy regulation helped to relax the rules after a clamor from parents over a dearth of prescriptions for epileptic children.
Alette Addison told MPs that the medicine is currently going through the licensing system:
“It is Epidiolex that is being made available… it has been made available to over 80 patients on the NHS already, ” she said.
Since the end of last year, specialist doctors have been able to prescribe medical cannabis to patients with conditions which cannot be successfully managed with licensed drugs.
But the relatively small number of prescriptions caused outrage among campaigners, with the families of 16 children with intractable epilepsy travelling to Westminster on Tuesday to lobby MPs.
A petition, part of the ‘End Our Pain’ campaign signed by a number of MPs calling on the government and the NHS to do more to increase medical cannabis prescriptions was handed over at Downing Street.
Head of the ‘End Our Pain’ campaign, Peter Carroll, told parliament’s health and social care committee the current system was a “shambles”, as while the law had changed in November, many cases were still being held up, in terms of qualification for CBD.
The Huff Post reports that England’s chief medical officer Sally Davies told MPs that randomised controlled trials must be carried out on medical cannabis as soon as possible in a bid to get it licensed.
“We do need the doctors to get used to the idea of prescribing cannabis. But it will always – until we have a licence – be at their own risk as an unlicensed medicine,” she said.
“The only way we can get it licensed is through doing randomised controlled trials. My belief is that we need to get on and do that as fast as we can… without that what we will do is just dish it out if the doctors will.”
Meanwhile in the US and Canada, at least one section of society had reason for cheer – hockey players.
Glenn Healy, head of the National Hockey League NHL Alumni Association, announced that a hundred retired players would be given CBD in a study examining the compound’s possible role in treating pain and post-concussion neurological disorders.
Retired players, struggling with depression, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), and dementia from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), will especially benefit from the relaxation of the law in assisting them.
Canopy Growth, an Ontario-based licensed producer has partnered with the NHL Alumni Association and Neeka Health Canada to conduct this clinical research.
The different experiences afforded to citizens in the UK and North America at the moment show both the complexity of regulating CBD as well as the incremental nature of progress being made.
While the UK is seeing more positive legislation, on the ground there is frustration still at the level of access to CBD. Meanwhile ex-hockey players Stateside are satisfied for now to benefit from a study, even if positive legislation is still a way off.