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.”
New course offers expert advice on medical cannabis from doctors and patients
The Sativa Learning course includes insight from doctors and patients
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Justin Bieber launches cannabis line with charitable focus
The limited-edition products will help to raise money for two charities
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 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.
Each month they hold community outreach events such as veteran one on one walking events.
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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.
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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.
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