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Brexit threatens to leave children without access to medical cannabis

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Around 40 children could be left without access to medical cannabis

Dozens of severely epileptic children could be left without access to life-saving medicine when the Brexit transition period comes to an end. 

Patients have been warned that supplies of medical cannabis from Holland, which around 40 severely epileptic children and their families are completely reliant on, will be terminated from the end of this month. 

In a letter sent to all UK importers, clinics and several patient groups, the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) stated that prescriptions issued in the UK can no longer be lawfully dispensed in an EU Member State when the Brexit transition period draws to a close on 31 December, 2020.

According to the letter this means that dispensing Bedrocan products in the Netherlands for UK prescriptions is ‘no longer an option’ from 1 January 2021.

This means dozens of patients will be left without access to cannabis oils, which have improved the quality of life of epileptic children in recent years, dramatically reducing the number of life-threatening seizures they suffer. 

Since the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018, campaigners believe that only three children have been granted an NHS prescription. 

Other families have been forced to pay privately for the Dutch medical cannabis, relying on fundraising to cover the costs, which can be as high as £2,500 per month. 

Hannah Deacon and son Alfie Dingley.

Hannah Deacon, mother of Alfie Dingley, who featured at the forefront of the campaigns that led to the law change and is prescribed Bedrolite on the NHS, is one of those fearing that her son’s supply of medicine will be stopped.

“This truly is the worst Christmas present I and the other families affected could ever possibly receive,” said Hannah. 

“I am fortunate to have an NHS prescription for Alfie, but now I am fearful it won’t be honoured due to this letter.”

“The letter, which we received just weeks before 1 January, only adds insult to injury for these families, who are already faced with the daily struggle of attempting to find the money to privately fund private prescriptions for their child’s epilepsy. We are all now faced with the grave possibility that our children will not be able to access the form of medical cannabis that works in the New Year.”

Hannah urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to work with the Dutch Government to come to a solution.

She continued: “We are making a desperate plea to the UK and Dutch governments to work together to find a long-term solution to this crisis. This is not about the politics of Brexit. It’s about children’s lives being at stake. I urge Boris Johnson to step in, work with the Dutch Government and help us.”

Joanne and Ben Griffiths

Joanne Griffiths, mother of 11-year-old medical cannabis patient, Ben said: “It’s been over two years of rejection to access the only medication that works for our children and now we are faced with the threat of not being able to access the medication even privately with only 13 days notice. 

“We are so scared, after being in hospital over New Year, two years ago with our son, after other medication failed to help, he had up to 300 life threatening seizures a day. We can’t go back to that nightmare.”

An End Our Pain Campaign Spokesperson said: “This letter is yet another devastating blow to these families, who already experience the difficulties of caring for very sick children. Time after time, the End Our Pain families have made desperate pleas to the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary and the NHS for urgent assistance, but their needs continue to be ignored. This letter, sent so close to the transition deadline, has left us scrambling to find a solution based on very limited information. 

“The termination of medical cannabis supply from the Netherlands to the UK, will be a matter of life and death for these children. It’s imperative that the Government act now to help reach a solution and help these families.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

“We sympathise with patients dealing with challenging conditions and there is a range of alternative cannabis-based medicines available to UK patients.

“The decision on what treatments to prescribe to patients is rightly one for clinicians to make, on a case-by case basis and dependant on the specific needs of the individual.

“If patients have any concerns, they should discuss them with their doctor.”

Industry

Provacan brings high-strength, 72% CBD to UK

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Kanabo's VapePod will be compatible for Provocan's new CBD range

The science-led brand is bringing the latest cannabis technology to the UK with two high potency CBD formulas.

Provacan, the CBD brand from cannabis research company CiiTECH, has introduced the two 72 percent products as part of its popular VapePod range developed in partnership with Kanabo. 

The Provacan range of VapePod compatible pre-filled pods have grown to become one of the company’s most popular vape products.

The VapePod device was developed by Israel-based Kanabo Group and provides users with a certified, safe and effective vaporisation system with innovative metered dosing with high bioavailability. 

Vaporisation of CBD improves the rate of absorption when compared to other means such as ingestion.

The device optimises efficiency while delivering CBD formulas more safely and simply. It can only be used with compatible pre-filled cartridges, such as Provacan’s Day and Night pre-filled pods.

Kanabo recently became the second cannabis company to list on the London stock exchange. 

This is a revolutionary step for the VapePod entering the medical cannabis scene in the UK and is vital for patients for whom this delivery method will replace the smoking of cannabis flowers.

Avihu Tamir, CEO at Kanabo, said: “We are pleased to have CiiTECH as a partner in the UK for developing pure innovative hemp formulas. The unique formulas are coupled with the VapePod platform which give consumers great satisfaction in knowing that they’re getting the most out of their CBD.”

Building on the popularity of the 55 percent CBD VapePod­­ range, Provacan has worked with Kanabo Research to launch two new higher strength vape formulas for its customers. 

The all-new Night Terpene and Day Terpene CBD VapePod formulations contain 72 percent CBD together with other minor cannabinoids and a potent mix of terpenes.

Terpenes are widely used and can be found in essential oils and aromatherapy. 

Additionally, the all natural pods are free from traces of pesticides, heavy metals and solvents and don’t containing PG, VC, MCT, nicotine or vitamin E. 

Provacan is part of the growing portfolio of brands by leading British cannabis company CiiTECH Ltd, with R&D management based in Israel.

Founded by Clifton Flack in 2017, Provacan is the flagship brand within the portfolio and focuses on bringing the latest cannabis technology to its loyal consumers in the UK and across the world.

Partnerships with international medical cannabis research companies fuel CiiTECH’s product development and provide brands like Provacan with forward thinking industry knowledge and the ability to create highly respected science-backed CBD products for sale in the UK today.

Eli Whiteman, CiiTECH’s VP business development, said: “Our partnership with Kanabo goes back a long way and beyond technological innovation. Our main priority is to strive to ensure our customers have access to a superior combination of bioavailability, unique delivery systems and consistent CBD products that they can rely on.

“We achieve this by channelling consumer demands into product development and by partnering with like minded medical cannabis companies that do the same.”

The new Night Terpene CBD and Day Terpene CBD VapePods are available from Provacan now, retailing at £49.99 each. To find out more information about the products, visit https://provacan.co.uk/vapes/.

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Dragonfly expansion to deliver over 1,000kg of CBD per month

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Dragonfly CBD is currently available from a variety of high street retailers in the UK

Dragonfly Biosciences is expanding its CBD extraction capability, to enable the large scale delivery of over 1,000kg of CBD per month.

The manufacturers of Dragonfly CBD oil has acquired full ownership of Premium Extraction Services Limited – a large scale state of the art ethanol extraction facility.

As a result  Dragonfly Biosciences will be able to offer the large-scale delivery of over 1000kg of CBD per month, in comparison to other extraction facilities which can deliver on average around 50kg per month.

Dragonfly CBD can currently be found at a variety of stockists on the UK high street including Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, as well as in pharmacies.

The expansion will enable the firm to deliver bespoke CBD distillate and CBD isolate in significant quantities, adding to its expanding portfolio.

Chief executive, Regan Saveall, described the move as a “significant step forward” for the company in delivering “first-class” CBD.

“The acquisition of the Premium Extraction Services Company is a significant step forward for Dragonfly Biosciences and importantly our range of CBD products,” he commented.

“We are committed to innovation and investment, and already have our own vertical integrated supply chain, which allows us to provide high-quality CBD products, all of which are compliant with all regulatory status.

“The extraction facility will enable us to control and produce even more first-class CBD on a much larger scale. This will support the demand for our current products and allow us to explore different types of CBD offerings. There are only a handful of large-scale fully permitted facilities in the EU, so this is really exciting for us.

“By investing as a company, we can ensure our CBD brand is as always safe, legal and best in class when it comes to quality and consumer transparency. “

The Dragonfly Bioscience extraction plant is based in Romania close to the Bulgarian border and fields where Dragonfly Bioscience has 650 hectares of organically certified land.

The extraction facility is built to EU-GMP standard with full accreditation status in progress.

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Industry

Cannabliss to open brick and mortar dispensary

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Michael Dobson - Cannabliss founder

UK-based medical cannabis group, Cannabliss aims to help patients transition from the illicit market into the legal cannabis space.

Following a long, “drawn-out” application process, Cannabliss has secured a pharmacy licence for dispensing medical cannabis through its online platform.

Now, after handing out its first private prescription this month, the company has announced it will be opening a brick and mortar site in Preston in April 2021.

Set to open on 12 April, the store will sell legal, over-the-counter cannabis-based products and also offer advice and guidance to people who are seeking to secure a medical cannabis prescription.

Cannabliss was founded by Michael Dobson, who was involved in a legal battle for several years over the legality of cultivating cannabis plants. In a saga that climaxed with him taking the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd to court, he fought for a judicial review of cannabis legislation.

Having spent many years involved with the illicit cannabis market, including a period behind bars for growing several of his own plants, Dobson is now on a mission to widen access to legal medical cannabis.

“The vast majority of people have very little understanding of the legal cannabis market,” he tells Cannabis Health.

“What we’re doing is effectively creating a concierge service in which we help guide [people] through the process of becoming a legalised cannabis patient.”

Cannabliss says it aims to build trust with its customers and establish itself as a “go-to” place for trusted information about the medical cannabis landscape.

Dobson explains: “Customers have the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody who specialises in this particular area, rather than it just being a vape shop or health food store that has added cannabis products to its already existing range.

“If we do have somebody coming in and asking about the process of getting access to medical cannabis, we can explain that to them.”

Currently, in the UK, there are qualifying conditions that must be met before being considered for cannabis-based treatment.

Although an estimated 1.4 million people consume cannabis for medicinal purposes, very few can access it via a prescription.

Dobson believes that there is a “great deal” of people that could meet the criteria for a medical cannabis prescription but have never considered it due to the cost and exclusivity of private healthcare.

He says Cannabliss will provide support to its customers if they choose to go through the official process.

“Even though the prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, we still think there’s going to be a hurdle to overcome in terms of breaking down that barrier; that stigma that is there for a lot of people,” he says.

The company is already putting plans in motion to expand into a franchise with two provisional stores set to open this summer in Leicester and Essex.

As part of this franchising effort, Cannabliss aims to provide opportunities for people who may have previously been involved with the illicit cannabis market.

Dobson believes that it is “morally right” to give people the chance to enter the burgeoning legal market.

“I always wanted to include as many people as possible within what we’re doing, and support people that have been in a similar position to myself,” Dobson adds.

“We will not discriminate on somebody because they maybe have a criminal history like myself.

“In actual fact, these people are actually the best people to have running our franchises because they’re so knowledgeable.”

Dobson also believes that this approach could help reduce the influence and scale of the illegal market.

“By removing people from the illegal market and bringing them into the legal market, you’re getting rid of the black market rather than putting something in place that’s in competition with it,” he says.

Looking ahead, Dobson says the company is feeling “very positive”. It has formed partnerships with suppliers in the UK and Europe, including a distribution agreement with Canopy Growth Corporation subsidiary, Storz and Bickel, for its range of medical-grade vaporisers.

“It’s going very well and we’re anticipating a lot of interest,” Dobson adds.

“Feedback that I’m getting from different people [in the sector] is that a lot of people are interested in what we’re doing, how we’ve got to where we’ve got to and, in particular, my backstory and how that fed into the whole ethos of what we’re trying to do.

“I feel very strongly that the UK is going to become a world leader in the legalised cannabis space over the next few years and I’m looking forward to playing my own small part in that.”

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