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First hemp wig created for vegan barristers

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The wigs will be made a legal requirement across all UK courts

The world’s first industrial hemp wig to be manufactured for vegan barristers this year, will see cannabis make its mark in the courtroom.

Vegan Pupil Barrister Samuel March has partnered with hemp textile designer Laura Bossom, to create the first locally made industrial hemp wig.

Set to be manufactured in the UK this year, the wig will be rolled out as legal wear to be worn in courts around the country.

Traditionally, for the past 200 years, barristers have worn wigs made from horsehair, which were first invented in 1822 by Humphrey Ravenscroft.

Photo credit – Chloe Evans

But with vegans and vegetarians set to make up a quarter of the British population by 2025 – and Generation Z (those aged 18 -23) currently the most meat-free generation yet – there is an incoming generation of law students and future barristers whose ethical beliefs prevent them from wearing animal products. 

Previously synthetic wigs had been available to order from Australia for some time, but prior to Samuel’s prototype there were no plant-based wigs produced anywhere – and no widely available vegan-friendly options produced in the UK. 

“As a vegan, I oppose all forms of animal exploitation, from gratuitous cruelty like bull fighting or fox hunting, to the industrial-scale cruelty of factory farming, to more subtle forms of cruelty which nevertheless involve the ownership and commodification of animal bodies,” commented Samuel.

“For me, horsehair is at the latter end. Of course, it is conceivable that there are ways this could be taken without immediate physical pain, but that does not mean it is not exploitation.”

He continued: “I refuse to sponsor exploitation by buying expensive items made from animal products as this adds value to the practice of owning them and selling them for parts.”

Hemp, a native, natural fibre is coming back into use in the modern world as society turns its attention to protecting the planet.

Around 100 years ago, industrial hemp was used to help the British army compete in the world wars, making sails and ropes for their ships. 

There were rope manufacturers, clothes makers and industrial hemp grown all around the UK to supply this demand. 

After revealing of the product, Laura Bossom, founder of the hemp manufacturer, Cultiva Kingdom, said: “It is exciting to see how we have brought this material back to life, applying it to a product which will be showcased in a legal setting and can make a contribution to environmental objectives”

Recently government legislation around the world has set new net zero carbon targets and the UK plans to see all green-house gases to net zero by 2050.

As hemp can absorb four times as much carbon than the average plant, the wig can off-set carbon dioxide as its raw materials are grown. 

In addition, the bioremediation crop only requires one third of the water than cotton which reduces its impact on water resources and land degradation. 

This is imperative if we wish to see depleted soils recover from intensive farming practices which have been carried out for centuries. 

Samuel’s wig has received a positive response from the legal industry. 

Within 48 hours of unveiling his idea, he had received over 30 order requests. 

The wig has been estimated to retail at £650, which puts it in a high-tier bracket next to traditional horse-hair wigs sold at £400 and £700. 

And Ivy & Normanton, the UK’s first legal outfitter for women has already shown an interest in stocking the product. 

Karlia Lykourgou, founder of Ivy & Normanton and practicing criminal barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said: “There’s definitely a positive conversation to be had and we are interested. 

“I’ve actually been shown a synthetic wig and it does not have the same quality as a horsehair wig. The legal garb that we wear is significant and it means something. 

“We do not want to dilute the quality of this garb that we wear, it’s a sacred uniform and it takes a lot to get there. A hemp wig sounds like it might have a similar quality to horsehair, there’s certainly a conversation to be had.” 

The product has also caught the attention of Labour’s Shadow Minister for Legal Aid, Karl Turner, who described it as a “brilliant idea”. 

Miranda Moore QC, one of the heads of Chambers at 5 Paper Building said: “Sam is fully supported by Chambers, as I made clear to him when he first mentioned the idea to me some months ago. 

“I am generally supportive of the practice of wearing wigs, but consider that appropriate court attire should be inclusive and what it is made out of is immaterial. 

“People should be able to express themselves in line with their values, whether that means a Sikh being able to wear a turban instead of a wig or a vegan going out and sourcing something suitable.” 

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Six big cannabis sector stories you might have missed this week

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It’s been another week of big news in the cannabis world.

At Cannabis Health, our in depth coverage of the ongoing growth of cannabis as a medical and wellness product continues

Meanwhile, over at Cannabis Wealth, we’ve been following all the big industry and policy news in a week which has seen some important developments..

Been busy and want to get caught up in a hurry?

Here are the six things you need to read to stay in the loop this week.

1. Reprieve for medical cannabis patients

The Department of Health has reached an agreement with Dutch officials to extend the supply of medical cannabis oils to existing patients in the UK until 2022.

Medical cannabis patients, living with severe, life-threatening epilepsy were left without access to medication when the UK left the EU at the end of last year.

Medical cannabis

Families, whose children are prescribed Bedrocan oils in the UK but must obtain their prescription through the Transvaal pharmacy in the Netherlands, were given two weeks notice that their medication could no longer be dispensed following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31, December 2020.

Read the full story.

2. UK largest’s medical cannabis trial reports back

The first findings from the UK’s largest medical cannabis patient study show quality of life improved by more than 50 percent.

Preliminary results from Drug Science’s Project Twenty21 study, have found medical cannabis significantly improves quality of life for people with life-limiting conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS) Tourette’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Published on Tuesday 11 May, the report is the first real-world data to be collected on medical cannabis in the UK.

Read more here.

3. Harrowing first-hand account of medical cannabis user
Diagnosed with a personality disorder and experiencing debilitating anxiety which left him housebound, Craig – whose name has been changed – had exhausted all treatment options and was losing all hope.
He speaks about how medical cannabis helped save his life here.

4. CBD market set to shrink

The UK’s CBD sector looks set to shrink significantly as the roll out of new regulations continues to batter the industry.

The FSA has confirmed to Cannabis Wealth it received applications for 803 different CBD products – but only 42 have been advanced to the next stage of the process so far.

More than half of all applications (445) were ‘incomplete’ and a further 41 have been withdrawn altogether.

Read the full story here.

5. CBD not linked to single doping case

CBD has not been linked to a single failed drugs test in UK sport despite fears about the undeclared levels of THC in some products.

The World Anti-Doping Agency removed the cannabinoid from its banned substances list in 2017 and since then several high profile athletes have publicly endorsed CBD products.

Even though CBD – which has no psychoactive properties – is not banned, the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) still warns athletes to be cautious with treatments.

Read our exclusive report here.

6. School’s out for cannabis class

The first class on a pioneering university medical cannabis course have concluded their first year of studies.

The research programme at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin examines the medical and nutritional uses of cannabis, production and the legal and economic frameworks of the business.

It’s the latest sign that medical cannabis is becoming a part of the mainstream education offering and a positive indication that new industry leaders will emerge in the coming years.

Full story here.

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Science finds a way for medical cannabis to relieve pain without side effects

Researchers have developed a molecule that allows THC to fight pain without the side effects.

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Medical cannabis
Many people living with chronic pain have found that cannabis can provide relief. 

Scientists may have developed a molecule which could allow medical cannabis to provide pain relief without any side effects.

Many people live with chronic pain, and in some cases, cannabis can provide relief. 

But the drug also can significantly impact memory and other cognitive functions. 

Now, researchers have developed a peptide that, in mice, allowed THC to fight pain without the side effects.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 20 percent of adults in the states experienced chronic pain in 2019. 

In some studies, medical cannabis has been helpful in relieving pain from migraines, neuropathy, cancer and other conditions, but the side effects can present hurdles for widespread therapeutic use.

Previously, researchers identified two peptides [molecules which are made up of amino acids] that disrupt an interaction between a receptor that is the target of THC and another that binds serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates learning, memory and other cognitive functions. 

When the researchers injected the peptides into the brains of mice, the mice had fewer memory problems caused by THC. 

Now, this team, led by Rafael Maldonado, David Andreu and colleagues, has gone one step further to improve these peptides to make them smaller, more stable, orally active and able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Based on data from molecular dynamic simulations, the researchers designed two peptides that were less than half the length of the original ones but preserved their receptor binding and other functions. 

They also optimised the peptide sequences for improved cell entry, stability and ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. 

Then, the researchers gave the most promising peptide to mice orally, along with a THC injection, and tested the mice’s pain threshold and memory. 

Mice treated with both THC and the optimised peptide reaped the pain-relieving benefits of THC and also showed improved memory compared with mice treated with THC alone. 

Importantly, multiple treatments with the peptide did not evoke an immune response. 

Reporting in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, researchers say that these findings suggest the optimised peptide is an ideal drug candidate for reducing cognitive side effects from cannabis-based pain management.

The abstract that accompanies this paper can be viewed here.

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Dutch Government to supply medical cannabis for UK patients until 2022

The Department of Health has reached an agreement to continue the supply of Bedrocan oils

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The Dutch Government will supply medical cannabis to UK patients until 2022

The Department of Health has reached an agreement with Dutch officials to extend the supply of medical cannabis oils to existing patients in the UK until 2022.

Medical cannabis patients, living with severe, life-threatening epilepsy were left without access to medication when the UK left the EU at the end of last year. 

Families, whose children are prescribed Bedrocan oils in the UK but must obtain their prescription through the Transvaal pharmacy in the Netherlands, were given two weeks notice that their medication could no longer be dispensed following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31, December 2020. 

After outrage from campaigners, the Dutch government agreed to continue supplying the life-saving products until 1 July, 2021 while a more permanent solution was reached.

This waiver period has now been extended until 1 January, 2022.

Health ministers promised to work with officials in the Netherlands to find a “long-term” solution, but according to those at the forefront of the campaign, there is still “some way to go”.

Hannah Deacon and son Alfie Dingley

Hannah Deacon’s son Alfie Dingley, who is prescribed Bedrocan products for a rare form of epilepsy, recently celebrated one year seizure-free.

In a letter to Deacon on Thursday 13 May, the DofH said it was working with the Dutch government, Bedrocan and the Transvaal pharmacy to proceed as “quickly as possible” with the UK production of these medicines.

It added that domestic production is “complex” and that manufacturing “unlicensed herbal medicines” comes with “significant challenges”. 

Deacon said that the UK production of Bedrocan products was the “only solution”.

While other cannabis-based medicines are available in the UK, experts have warned that there is ‘significant variation’ from one product to the next and switching an epilepsy patient’s treatment could be ‘life-threatening’.

“With the 1 July deadline for Bedrolite supply to cease from the Netherlands looming ever closer, we made it clear we wanted an extension to the agreement to stop the situation becoming dangerous for Alfie and the other patients receiving this vital medicine,” commented Deacon.

“The long term solution of Bedrocan products being made in the UK still has some way to go, but it can be the only solution and we thank everyone who is working very hard to achieve this. 

“This is still a long way off from being okay, but for now we have the pressure taken off on the supply issue.”

With limited access to medical cannabis on the NHS, families are still calling for the Government to help fund their children’s prescriptions, which can cost thousands of pounds each month.

Deacon added: “The ever-pressing issue of financial burden on the many families and patients wishing to use medical cannabis in the UK remains and this is a huge issue which needs dealing with.

“There are many ways in which the Government could step in and help access for very vulnerable people and we will continue working as hard as we can to make things better for all.”

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