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Industry urged not to panic over Home Office stance on CBD

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Reports last week suggested that laws around bulk importing CBD could soon change

CBD companies have been urged not to panic as the Home Office insists its position on the cannabinoid has not changed. 

Several business owners expressed concern to Cannabis Health last week, following reports that all those importing bulk isolates or distillates, would need to apply for a Schedule One Controlled Drug Licence from the UK Home Office.

It came following a letter from Justice Minister Kit Malthouse to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) calling for further clarity on the legal levels of THC permitted in CBD products. 

The move was described as another ‘hurdle’ facing UK companies, just weeks away from the novel food application deadline, with some fearing the licence requirement would force them out of the industry. 

However, Robert Jappie, a cannabis lawyer and partner at Ince, told Cannabis Health that he does not believe companies have any reason to panic at this stage. 

Mr Jappie welcomed the letter from the Justice Minister as a “positive” move towards much-needed clarity around the 1mg THC rule.

“The 1mg rule needs addressing to bring clarity to the industry,” he said. 

“I generally considered the Malthouse letter to be quite positive, although its emergence was certainly a surprise.”

The letter, sent on 11 January, states that the Government wishes to “explore the possibility” of creating a specific exemption in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 for CBD products which contain “no more than a defined trace percentage of controlled cannabinoids.”

It proposes that the defined trace THC percentage in CBD products should be set at a level between 0.01 percent and 0.0001 percent by “weight per controlled cannabinoid”.

If the ACMD opts for the trace amount to be set at 0.01 percent, the legally permitted levels would actually increase, with a 50ml bottle containing 5mg of THC.

But the latter could have huge implications for companies selling full and broad-spectrum products, making it virtually impossible to remove all trace levels of THC to a legal amount. 

Malthouse adds that the precise level will be determined “following further scientific testing advice” and the Government currently has “no plans to look at the status of CBD itself under drug legislation”.

But understandably, the uncertainty around THC levels has caused concern in the industry.

Paul Shrive, founder of Leafline CBD, said a controlled drug licence – which can equate to tens of thousands, including the required documents for importing, handling and shipping products – was not feasible for smaller companies. 

“If it was feasible there is no denying that I would be in control of the whole process from seed to shelf as this is my craft and my passion, he said.

“But unless you are a big pharmaceutical business with a lot of money behind you, there are too many hurdles to get past. It’s almost impossible to get through it all and it seems like a system designed to make you fail.”

Shrive added: “Granted, if we were talking about cannabis based prescribed medication then of course, there are strict measures that need to be adhered to, but this is hemp, a plant which we have been working with since the dark ages and causes absolutely no harm to anyone, only good.”

However, according to Jappie, there is as of yet, no indication that CBD companies need to apply for the Schedule One licence.

“Given that companies have been encouraged to engage in the novel food process, it seems unlikely that the Home Office would suddenly impose licence requirements too,” he continued.

“I don’t think companies should panic about this. Novel Food sets a high benchmark for quality and safety standards in the UK. CBD has been placed into that regime and that should be sufficient to ensure that consumers are protected.”

In a statement to Cannabis Health, the Home Office confirmed its stance on CBD had not changed and it hoped the advice from the ACMD would “strengthen the law” and allow companies to create “safe and legitimate” CBD products more easily.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The legislation, and the Home Office’s position on CBD, has not changed. CBD, as an isolated substance, in its pure form, is not a controlled drug. 

“However if a produce contains THC or other controlled cannabinoids, then it is highly likely this product would be controlled.”

“We have asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to provide advice on how we can strengthen the law on consumer CBD products. We hope this advice will allow us to make sure the law is clear and that these products are safe for consumers so those who seek to create legitimate, safe CBD consumer products, are able to do so more easily.”

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New course offers expert advice on medical cannabis from doctors and patients

The Sativa Learning course includes insight from doctors and patients

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A new online course on prescribing medical cannabis will offer a detailed insight into the industry from both clinicians and patients. Cannabis Health speaks to course creator and CEO Ryan McCreanor.

Sativa Learning and the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) have partnered to offer a new course on the prescribing of medical cannabis in the UK.

It will cover a comprehensive list of topics around cannabis as a medicine such as clinical evidence for medical cannabis, the practicalities of prescribing and side effects and contraindications.

The course, which will run online only, will also offer a variety of clinical and patient stories on a select list of conditions such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, paediatric epilepsy, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Course: An advert for Always Pure Organics

Sativa Learning has already launched a successful online CBD course covering everything from the science behind the cannabinoid to UK regulations.

Ryan got the idea following his return from Canada to his hometown of Northern Ireland where he struggled to find decent quality CBD products. He started his career as a toxicology scientist before working for the Canadian government as an educator and trainer post legalisation in 2018.

“This was a way to bring a level of legitimacy to the industry by developing an accredited expert-led cannabis course,” said Ryan.

“The idea for the platform is that we want to provide education for all avenues of the cannabis industry. The CBD industry was a good place to start as I had a good level of knowledge myself so I put together a lot of the educational content myself.”

He continued: “I wanted to bring in real experts so we partnered with Professor Barnes and Hannah Deacon. All future courses will be CPD-credited. A lot of medical professionals will have to gain a certain amount of CPD points per year so they can take our course and feel comfortable that it is managed to a high started of further learning.”

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As well as Hannah Deacon and Prof Barnes, the course also includes expert panels from Dr Dani Gordon who will speak about cannabis and oncology. Other classes will include Dr Elie Okirie speaking about epilepsy and Dr Evan Lewis on paediatric epilepsy. When it comes to the syllabus, the MCCS has put together the content for the cannabis course.

Course: The two creators of the cannabis course standing next to each other looking into the camera

Sativa Learning founder, Ryan McCreanor and Professor Mike Barnes

Ryan explained that they selected the conditions they included carefully to give a broad overview of common conditions.

He said: “We picked out 10 of the most common conditions for which cannabis is prescribed. We have fibromyalgia, chronic pain, cancer pain and women’s health issues. The doctors explain how they prescribe for that condition and have a number of patients who speak on camera about their experience.”

 

Expert-led courses

When it comes to panel discussions, courses or expert lead videos, it can often feel as if patients are forgotten. Ryan highlighted that this is a key part of the course.

“Not only do we have the doctors educating on cannabis but we have a follow-up with a patient talking about their experience,” he said.

“They discuss what life was like for them before medical cannabis, what their prescription is like and how this changed things for them.

“The industry should be all about the patients so we want to make sure that their voices are heard.”

The course will be fully online, with an option to learn as you go and break and save your progress whenever you are ready.  At the end of the course, there will be an exam that will give you a presentation upon a passing grade. The exam is part of the CPD accreditation.

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Ryan added: “Some people have blasted through our CBD course in one day where they just sit down and get through it all which can take up to six hours depending on your existing level of knowledge. This course is going to be quite a bit longer but you can do it all in one day or you could do a few hours a night for six months.”

The platform will be available for anyone who wants to learn about cannabis although Ryan explained that it may be more suited towards industry professionals.

He concluded: “There are no barriers to entry. The course is going to be available for whoever wants to learn about cannabis medicine. The language we use is heavily targeted towards the medical professionals as it is aimed at that audience to teach medical professionals about the basics of prescribing.”

Access the course here

Read more: The importance of peer to peer learning in medical cannabis education

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The importance of peer-to-peer learning in medical cannabis

Alex Fraser, patient access lead at Grow Pharma on the importance of peer-to-peer learning.

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GROW: A doctor writing a medical cannabis prescription with an open canister of cannabis beside their hand

The importance of peer-to-peer learning for healthcare professionals really cannot be exaggerated, writes Alex Fraser, patient access lead at Grow Pharma.

Doctors and nurses look to their peers for experienced guidance on how best to treat and manage their patients.

This is particularly pertinent in medical cannabis. CBMPs (cannabis-based medicinal products) are a family of medicines with a multitude of variables to consider when prescribing or managing patients. This is the reason we at Grow have brought together a broad range of CBMPs to ensure prescribers and patients have every option or tool they may require to manage symptoms.

Our portfolio now totals over 40 different CBMPs. Different THC: CBD ratios, different modes of administration, different strengths; understanding the implications of these differences is important.

At Grow we are dedicated to supporting HCPs and patients with CBMPs, utilising the wealth of experience and knowledge within our medical team, the cannabis-prescribing doctor’s and clinics we work alongside and the world-renowned producers whose medicines we distribute.

We’ve recently launched our HCP Portal, through which doctors can find out about upcoming educational events, see details of the medicines we supply and can access private secure forums to discuss the use of CBMPs with other HCPs.

There are already several online courses for healthcare professionals educating on cannabis medicines. In our view, these should be seen as an addition to peer-to-peer learning, not a replacement for it. Grow is pioneering peer-to-peer education in UK medical cannabis and, despite being a relatively new addition to the services we provide to HCPs, these sessions are already showing positive results with more and more prescribers entering the space having attended our first round of educational webinars.

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Nothing can replicate the high level of learning achieved when a group is able to work through new concepts and material with other individuals engaged in the same work. Rather than clicking through videos and text, so much can be gained from being able to teach and be taught by one another, expanding perspectives and fostering meaningful connections with other HCPs.

Grow educational seminars

This is the premise behind Grow Pharma’s recently launched series of educational webinars. Aimed at HCP’s and focusing on various areas of interest within the field of cannabis medicines, these sessions include presentations from international experts, supported by some of the most respected producers of CBMPs from around the world including Tilray, Aurora and Columbia Care. So far, these sessions have focused on pain, rheumatology and mental health, with more coming up later this month and next.

Alongside detailed educational presentations, these sessions provide the opportunity to ask questions and discuss case studies and best practices with peers.

GROW: An image advertising an event

Upcoming educational webinar on clinical management of psychiatric conditions with cannabinoid-based medicines with Blake Pearson MD

With guidance from medical bodies on CBMP’s being limited, even with the recent guidance published by the BMJ on the use of CBMP’s in chronic pain, there is still a long way to go to engage the many specialist doctors who might prescribe cannabis medicines as well as GP’s who can refer patients to the specialist “cannabis clinics”. Whilst these doctors are the focus of our educational webinars, they are of course open to any and all HCPs interested in attending.

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GROW: An image advertising an evening event with Dr Rosemary Mazanet

Upcoming educational webinar on benefits of different formulations in medical cannabis from Rosemary Mazanet MD, CSO of Columbia Care

As is the upcoming event at the Royal Society of Medicine. Hosted by Integro Medical Clinics, Grow is proud to sponsor this event. Engaging with institutions like the RSM, and having their support as we continue to reach out and educate HCPs, is enormously helpful.

GROW: An event at the Royal society of medicine

Pain and cannabis medicines: Everything you want to know (but were afraid to ask) – 11th October at the Royal Society of Medicine

Grow mission

At Grow our mission is to give CBMPs the role in everyday medical practice that they deserve and to ensure that patients benefit from them wherever possible. There is a lot of work to be done to achieve this mission, but with experienced clinicians, expert producers and the engagement and support of institutions like the RSM we feel that we are poised to really make a difference; to grow the understanding of these medicines and their potential and most importantly to improve patient’s lives.

Grow and Integro Medical Clinics invite you to join us at the RSM on 11th Oct for a day of education on CBMPs in the treatment of pain from experts in the field and experienced UK prescribers.

Growing Cannabis Education and Understanding

We urge anyone interested in learning more to join our HCP Portal to find out about our upcoming digital and RW events and speak to other HCPS or contact us directly to request a space on one of our educational webinars.

READ MORE  Medical leaders explore vital role of nurses in cannabis treatment

Read more: GMC must address serious concerns over BPNA guidelines

 

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Justin Bieber launches cannabis line with charitable focus

The limited-edition products will help to raise money for two charities

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Justin Bieber: A photo of the Canadian singer and his girlfriend at an awards ceremony
Image: Instagram/justinbieber

The Canadian singer announced he is launching a new cannabis pre-roll collection, Peaches, inspired by a single from his latest album.

Justin Bieber will also donate a portion of the proceeds to the Last Prisoner Project and a Veteran support charity.

He is working with the Los Angeles based company, Palms on special, limited edition, pre-rolled cannabis joints. The collection will be available throughout California. The specific strains are thought to include Indica, Sativa, with citrus terpenes and each pack will come with a branded lighter.

Bieber opened up about his struggle with mental health in a YouTube documentary series, Seasons, that aired last year. He also revealed he suffers from lyme disease. 

In a statement, he said he wanted to enter the industry to help remove the stigma associated with cannabis use and hoped it could help younger people with mental health difficulties.

He said: “I’m a fan of Palms and what they are doing by making cannabis approachable and helping to destigmatise it – especially for the many people who find it helpful for their mental health. I wanted to make sure that I was doing something with them that felt genuine, and Peaches felt like a good place to start.”

A portion of sales from the products will support Veterans Walk and Talk, a group of veterans that advocate for cannabis as medicine. It will also support the Last Prisoners Project, a nonprofit organisation that aims to free people convicted of marijuana possession.

Justin Bieber: An advert for Always Pure Organics

Justin Bieber and charity donations

The Veterans Walk and Talk organisation was established in 2016 in Southern California, Oakland and Sacramento. They offer veterans a way to take control of their health using exercise, cannabis, psychedelics and community. They use walking and talking therapies.

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Each month they hold community outreach events such as veteran one on one walking events.

The Last Prisoner Project

The Last Prisoner Project was founded to help those incarcerated for cannabis offences. They use a team of cannabis industry leaders, criminal and social justice advocates alongside policy and education experts. They are committed to freeing every last prisoner of the war on drugs which they estimate as 40,000 individuals.

Celebrities and cannabis

Bieber joins a long line of celebrities entering the cannabis industry such as Snoop Dogg, Bella Thorne and Mike Tyson. The industry is thought to reach USD 70.6 billion by 2028, according to a report by market research company, Grand View Research, Inc.

In contrast to their American counterparts, British celebrities such as David Beckham have invested in CBD companies in recent months.

Image rights: Justin Bieber

Read more: “Veterans and CBD: It changed my life and closed a very dark chapter.

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Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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