This week, a leading British independent research organization announced a new medical marijuana study that will track 20,000 participants. The scientists hope to eventually produce Europe’s largest cache of clinical cannabis research and help convince UK legislators to expand the country’s strict medical marijuana program.
The project, dubbed Project Twenty21 for its targeted start date, will be lead by Drug Science, a non-profit focused on “bringing together leading drugs experts from a wide range of specialisms to carry out groundbreaking research into drug harms and effects.” And while Project Twenty21 aims to accumulate vast amounts of data, researchers also say the study is a way to provide medical cannabis to patients who are not able to currently access the plant through the UK’s MMJ program.
“Medical cannabis is still out of reach for far too many,” Drug Science researcher Professor David Nutt told the Guardian. “Patients are left untreated, in significant debt from the cost of private prescriptions, or criminalized 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.”
The UK legalized medical marijuana last year, but access to prescription cannabis oils is highly restrictive and incredibly expensive, especially since medical cannabis is not covered by health insurance.
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Project Twenty21 hopes to combat those access barriers by casting a wide research net, seeking participating patients who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy, PTSD, MS, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, and other ailments. It is not yet clear whether patients will be offered cannabis in flower or oil form, but Drug Science researchers are confident that the initiative has the opportunity to reshape the UK’s stance on cannabis, in addition to helping thousands of patients in need.
“This will allow patients to get vital therapy without breaking the law,” Professor Nutt said in a press release. “It will also provide a solid clinical database from which experience of and confidence in, medical cannabis prescribing will develop, providing a foundation for other medical prescribers to build on.”
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