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I’ve gone from a wheelchair to walking thanks to cannabis

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Fibromyalgia sufferer Jane Hinchcliffe was housebound and wheelchair dependent for years, but since using medical cannabis she’s back on her feet.

“Cannabis gave me a life,” says Jane Hinchcliffe, who suffers constant, debilitating pain as a result of fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Now 42, despite showing symptoms at 13, it took until she was 26 for her to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Doctors put it down to growing pains and she was treated with physiotherapy, followed by a prescription for codeine at the age of just 15.

She spent the next three decades of her life in a fog of heavy opioids and painkillers. In 2015 after a cycling accident Jane developed CRPS, a chronic autoimmune condition usually brought on by an injury.

“It’s known as the most painful condition known to man,” she says.

“On the McGill Pain Index it can score up to 47 out of 50, whereas cancer and fibromyalgia score 20.”

Jane’s symptoms were so bad she needed a wheelchair to get around and couldn’t leave the house. It took its toll on her mental health and she struggled with depression, until two years ago when she started using medical cannabis.

“I started smoking it recreationally at 18 and I used it on and off over the years, but I didn’t realise at the time that I was treating my fibromyalgia,” she says.

It wasn’t until she attended a Green Pride event in 2018 that she realised the full potential of medicinal cannabis.

“I knew that it was going to be a painful day so I’d saved a bottle of morphine the hospital had given me so that I had decent pain relief,” she explains.

“I ended up having a space cake and didn’t need the morphine – that’s when I realised cannabis could actually replace my medication.”

In November 2018, Jane came off the opioids completely and now relies solely on cannabis to treat her pain.

“I’m still in constant pain but the cannabis makes it tolerable,” she says.

“I’ve literally gone from being housebound in a wheelchair, not being able to do anything. Now I can go swimming, I go to the gym, I can go out cycling. I’m out and about and walking.”

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Jane has recently signed up to Project Twenty21, which is subsidising the cost of prescriptions for medical cannabis patients, in a bid to create the largest body of evidence in Europe for the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines.

However, for the last two years she has been forced to access it illicitly, living with the anxiety of not being able to get hold of the right strain, as well as the fear that the police will turn up at the door.

Last year Jane spent time in prison after she was convicted and sentenced to six months for growing cannabis.

“I only served 46 days before I was released on tag, but it was difficult,” she says.“They take your medicine and you are left with nothing.

“I ended up in a wheelchair again in prison, there were some days where I was in too much pain to do anything.”

But despite being left with a criminal record, Jane says she has no intention of stopping using cannabis.

“I don’t have a choice, life without it is just unbearable,” she says.

“It makes me angry, because it’s just medicine.“I think some sort of discretion should be used, if it’s obvious it’s for medical use.”

Jane welcomes initiatives such as the Cancard scheme, which is due to launch in November and aims to protect patients who are accessing cannabis illicitly from arrest and prosecution.

But she fears police officers may choose to ignore it and believes laws should be brought in to allow patients to grow their own medicine at home.“Ideally we need to be able to grow our own,” she adds.

“It would take the strain off the NHS and doctors are always telling us to get a hobby – what better hobby than growing your own medicine?”

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All female-led CBD company to list on London Stock Exchange

It will be the first multi-brand CBD-focused consumer goods business to list on the LSE.

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South West Brands CEO Rebekah Hall (second right) leads the all-female management team

The multi-brand consumer goods company South West Brands has announced its intention to apply for listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

South West Brands expects to be admitted to the LSE in July and will be the first multi-brand CBD-focused consumer goods business to list on the LSE.

The group develops, licences, and markets CBD brands to consumers across the UK.

It plans to raise equity to continue to develop its existing portfolio of brands and pursue its strategy of adding more assets over the next two years.

Launched earlier this year, the all-female management team brings together extensive experience from both the consumer products sector and the CBD industry, supported by an exemplary board with experience across brand building, marketing, licensing, finance, and cannabis.

Its CEO Rebekah Hall brings almost a decade of experience in investment banking to the role, and helped set up Botanic Lab, the company behind Europe’s first CBD drink in 2018.

Rebekah Hall, CEO comes from a background in investment banking

Hall commented: “This is a key moment in the development of the CBD industry. South West Brands is uniquely placed to take advantage of this growing market and the significant opportunity that exists in branded goods. The time is right to advance consumer products expertise, discipline, and structures that can elevate the industry and consumer experience, ultimately building world class brand assets that utilise CBD.

“Our listing on the London Stock Exchange will enable South West Brands to access the new pool of cannabis investors that has grown in London following the successful admission of a number of cannabis companies in 2021. The Admission will allow the Group to advance to the next stages of its growth plans, and build a suite of strong brands that not only utilise CBD, but drive consumer engagement and product sell-through, something which has been missing in the industry thus far.”

The company has identified key product areas and markets which it will look to build and develop quality CBD brands that address areas of underserved consumer need.

These include: Drinks, Menstrual cycle care, Generation Z Skincare, Sport, Men’s holistic wellness, Menopausal care and 50+ supplements.

As well as Botanic Lab, the South West Brands has two further brands in development that are expected to launch later in the year, including Love,MeMeMe a Generation Z focused beauty and wellness brand, and FEWE, a menstrual cycle care brand.

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Daniel Gauci – the crowdgrowing pioneer aiming to revolutionise the cannabis industry

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The ‘Gentleman Smoker’ is a stylish, family man  – and cannabis influencer. His mission is to break down stigmas by promoting responsible use of cannabis among its many benefits.

Under this public figure we find Daniel Gauci, CBDO at JuicyFields, a medicinal cannabis crowdgrowing platform that is revolutionising the fast-growing industry.

Today he is with us to talk about his relationship within the cannabis industry and the medicinal resources that offer the world’s most famous green plant.

What is it like to be The Gentleman Smoker? Tell us about the positive and negative aspects.

The Gentleman Smoker came about from the want of promoting the positive aspects of medicinal marijuana from a realistic albeit different perspective.

To break the stereotypes of what a typical cannabis user is and to show that a modern day cannabis user is a professional, responsible person.

I have a vast history with cannabis and most if not all is positive, from positive, personal points of view regarding introspection, mental health and productivity matters to the medicinal benefits within many diseases including ones my children suffer from.

The negative aspects, if I have to view it that way, would be that my private and professional life are now as one, and that my thoughts and motives are there for all to see, but that also has positives.

Many people still deny the health benefits that cannabis has to offer, what do you think about that?

The evidence is there. I am still surprised to hear the claim that there is not enough research, data or studies regarding medicinal marijuana and the benefits that it offers.

There are more than fifteen thousand peer reviewed studies and trials freely available for review and many more recently that focus on the endocannabinoid system that is clearly recognised throughout the medical world, with many clinicians prescribing cannabis for a multitude of treatments.

It does pain me that people can deny something when the information is freely available, however, it is understandable due to the many years of negative propaganda campaigns.

More and more countries are changing their legislation and perception of medical cannabis. Will we ever see a world in which medical cannabis is legislated and socially accepted?

I hope so. However, let us not forget there are places in the world where it is still a crime to be gay or to favor one religion over another.

There are many challenges that marijuana legislation faces but I see them being overcome one by one.

Let us take Europe as an example, the shift for positive legislation has come quick with governments and medicine authorities realising the potential that medicinal marijuana offers not only as medicine for patients but as an industry for the nation.

If we look at the current predicted figures the industry is expected to boom in the coming years, this will only speed up favourable legislation ultimately benefiting the consumer.

If we look back 10 or even 5 years, progress is gaining insatiable momentum that was not predicted by many so soon.

You have a background experience in the pharmaceutical field. Could you list some new medical benefits that can be found in cannabis if research continues?

Everyday I wonder where the research will take us. I read almost weekly of new applications and possible uses that medicinal marijuana can offer.

Not just in relation to cannabinoids but also in relation to terpenes and also the entourage effect, the innovation is truly outstanding.

When I studied pharmacology we touched upon cannabis in relation to the psychoactive elements in relation to the body and mind but since then microbiology and the understanding of chemical relationships has advanced so much I believe that we will keep learning more about this wonderful plant and what she has to offer for many years to come.

The most curious aspect for me is the relationship between the creation of amino acids and the importance of synapse connection in relation to speech. I am very much looking forward to the progress in this particular field of research.

On a personal level, what influence has medical cannabis had on your life?

Cannabis has held a different influence over me at various stages during my life. From one off theory and research to that of actively keeping members of my family alive.

The gap is profound and stretches so far but to narrow in on the practical medical applications in a personal scenario, it would be that of helping to save our baby daughters life.

It showed me how persecution from ignorance was prevalent in many avenues in life, not just in the medical marijuna world. In reflection it influenced me to be a better person, father, husband and member of society.

Having seen with your own eyes the benefits of medical cannabis, what would you say to those who want to try but are not sure about it?

Go and do it and do not waste time. Seek medical expertise prior but do not wait for any condition to worsen. Cannabis, while not 100% safe in all methods and for all people, has very little side effects with very, very high quantities needed for any type of overdosing classification.

Medicinal marijunana can have an immediate effect in certain conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease with other conditions and symptoms being alleviated within minutes.

There are numerous resources available that can guide and help you to make an informed decision. Currently we are treating our severely autistic, non verbal son with CBD oil.

The results are proving positive, the studies and trials undergoing currently, particularly in Spain, are very encouraging.

My daughter was treated with high strength (and dosage) of full spectrum THC oil when undergoing chemotherapy for a tumor on her kidney, not only did it help with managing negative side effects of the harsher treatments, we believe also stopped the tumor from growing. (However, we have no medical evidence to present for this claim).

What is the role of JuicyFields regarding the medical cannabis industry?

JuicyFields enables people to support the medicinal cannabis industry by keeping the supply chain within grassroots and community cultivation level operations.

JuicyFields is adamant that the people working within this industry for years, fighting for legislation and research should be the ones to benefit now that legislation is positive and the industry being legalised.

We operate so that the money generated in this industry goes back to the community farmers and cultivators and processors so that they can continue to support themselves and grow, rather than having to sell their lands or businesses to multinational corporations eager to monopolise the industry for profit.

Is crowdgrowing going to change the course of the cannabis industry? How?

I believe so, yes. The other role of JuicyFields is to provide easy access to those wanting to support and invest in the medical cannabis industry.

For those who have looked, it is very expensive and prohibitive to enter. High costs, many licenses, industry knowledge and a highly skilled workforce is required if one were to venture in the industry as a normal business might.

That is where crowdgrowing comes into play. JuicyFields provides a platform that these budding entrepreneurs and investors can not only support the grass roots level cultivators but to also make a profit for themselves without the heavy time and financial commitment usually required.

The cultivation partners on the platform are all vetted to the highest of standards and comply with every regulation required where they operate and beyond.

All with full compliance and cultivation licenses from the relevant authorities and are also insured. This means that crowdgrowers are fully legal and compliant to enter into what is traditionally an exclusive yet very profitable and fast growing industry.

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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and cannabis: What does the latest research say?

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Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes chronic pain across the body

Cannabis Health rounds up the latest research into the impact of cannabis on fibromyalgia. 

There are thought to be around 1.5-2 million people in the UK currently living with fibromyalgia, a condition which causes chronic pain around the body, muscle stiffness and fatigue.

With no cure for the illness and symptoms severely affecting day-to-day life, research is focusing on therapeutic treatments – including medical cannabis. 

In 2019, research published by Sagy, Schleider, Abu-Shackra and Novak showed that cannabis can help reduce fibromyalgia pain. The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical marijuana, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.

Chaves, Bittencourt and Pelegrini further supported these findings in October 2020, concluding that phytocannabinoids can serve as an affordable yet well-tolerated therapy for fibromyalgia symptom relief and quality of life improvements. 

After the randomised controlled trial, the researchers went as far as to suggest that the cannabinoid therapy “could become an herbal or holistic choice of medicine for treating fibromyalgia as part of Brazil’s public healthcare system”.

A study in Italy, published in February 2020, also demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments. 

Researchers concluded: “This observational study shows that medical cannabis treatment offers a possible clinical advantage in fibromyalgia patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions.” 

Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 fibromyalgia patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments. These participants were given two forms of medical cannabis oil extracts and researchers then collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.

While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some. Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety were found in around half of patients, too. 

Despite fibromyalgia being more common amongst women – up to 90 per cent of sufferers are female – one study has found that cannabis may provide better pain relief for men.

The preclinical studies, conducted in 2016, compared the analgesic, subjective and physiological effects of active cannabis and inactive cannabis in male and female cannabis smokers under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, and measured pain response through the Cold-Pressor Test. 

Among men, active cannabis significantly decreased pain sensitivity relative to inactive cannabis. However, in women, active cannabis failed to decrease pain sensitivity relative to inactive, indicating that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater analgesia compared to women.

Researchers concluded: “Sex-dependent differences in cannabis’ analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief.”

While further research is necessary, it is clear to see that medical cannabis can make a huge difference to treatment and relief of pain caused by fibromyalgia.

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