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National awareness campaign to open up access to medical cannabis

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A new public awareness campaign is breaking down barriers to medical cannabis for UK patients.  

Launched on Monday 7 September, the Open Cannabis campaign aims to raise awareness and provide information about medical cannabis, in an effort to reduce the current barriers to access.

Founding partner Grow Pharma is leading the national campaign, in conjunction with a number of organisations, leaders, patient support groups and specialist clinics.

“As a key importer and distributor in the UK, Grow Pharma was already doing all it could to increase access to cannabis medicines,” said CEO of Grow Pharma, Pierre van Weperen.

“However, we realised that if we want to see real change that will directly benefit the wider public and potential patients, we need to address the lack of accurate information, clarify misconceptions and we need to put patients before competition.

“Our long term aim is to show the government that medical cannabis is safe and effective and should be available through the NHS for a wider group of people.”

Although cannabis medicines have been legal in the UK since 2018, prescription numbers remain relatively low, in part due to a general lack of public knowledge on the subject.

The most recent publicly available data puts prescription numbers for unlicensed cannabis medicines at less than 50 per month.*

Open Cannabis polling data shows that low uptake in the UK is not due to people’s lack of interest in trying cannabis medicines, but in part stems from a lack of understanding of how to get hold of them and their eligibility for treatment.

66 per cent of the UK public would consider using cannabis medicines for a medical condition, yet 80 percent feel they are in the dark about how the system works.

Only 14 per cent of people say they know how to access cannabis medicines, and only 22 percent say they know which conditions prescribed cannabis medicines might help with.

Ben Langley, CEO of Grow (Grow Pharma’s parent company) said: “Even under the current system, over a million people suffering daily from debilitating chronic, cancer and neuropathic pain could benefit from medical cannabis if they knew how to access it.”

The Open Cannabis website aims to be the first port of call for patients and self-medicators seeking information about cannabis medicines in the UK.

The website offers a downloadable guide to cannabis medicines, a ‘find a specialist clinic’ service, a cannabis use tracker and links to additional resources for both patients and healthcare practitioners.

A multi-platform social media campaign will also encourage users of cannabis medicines across the UK to share their story and raise awareness. For more information visit https://www.opencannabis.uk/.

* FOI data from NHS BSA, February 2020.

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