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“It was game-changing, I felt like everybody needed to know about it”

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Claire Mcauley, founder of Naturally North CBD

A chance discovery of CBD oil allowed Claire Mcauley to come off opioids for her arthritis and inspired a change of career.

Having inherited osteoarthritis from her father, Claire Mcauley, 51, had knee surgery for the first time while still in her 30s.

At just 48, both of her knees semi-dislocated and her doctor informed her that she would need to start thinking about knee replacements. Claire, 17 years younger than the average knee replacement patient, was shocked by the news.

“I was basically told that my knees were shot and they needed to get me booked in for knee replacements,” Claire recalls.

“I said, ‘wait a minute, I’m 48 and we’re talking about knee replacements?’”

Claire was in excruciating pain, but she decided to hold off from having the procedure and was put on a range of different prescription pain killers, including opioids, to manage the pain.

Taking the likes of Tramadol and amitriptyline, her medication plan began to have an impact on her day-to-day life and work.

“I was a regional manager in the commercial world. I needed to drive and I needed to function. I needed to talk to a lot of people, but I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow,” Claire says.

“It was horrendous, opioid medications can be nasty things.”

In 2019 during a trip to Glasgow, Claire encountered CBD for the first time. She walked past a stall selling CBD products and she was offered to try an oil. The effects were instantaneous, she says.

“By the time I had walked 500 yards I had no pain. I was sure it wasn’t just in my head. I’m quite a level-headed person when it comes to things like this and I couldn’t understand how it had happened.”

She bought a bottle of the oil and began taking it regularly. Straight away she abandoned the opioid medication and managed her pain with CBD alone.

Previously Claire would regularly take the antidepressant pain medication, amitriptyline, especially during the night. now no longer uses the drug or any other prescription painkiller.

She explains: “I would wake in the night by just turning over. If my knee was going to pop, I could feel it and I would panic. My whole body would go rigid because I was thinking ‘it’s going to go again’. But CBD stopped all that.”

Dropping her prescription medicines wasn’t the only change Claire made to her life. Just two months after discovering CBD, she decided to launch her own company, which now sells a range of health and wellness products from its base in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“I was already in business with a couple guys who I’ve known for a while and I just felt like we needed to do this, it was game-changing.

“Everybody needed to know about it,” she says.

Claire opened Naturally North CBD shop in July 2019. At the time she says there was still stigma attached to cannabis and the business “took its time to get off”.

Now, almost two years on, the shop is a go-to place in the North East for both CBD aficionados and those new to the supplement.

Naturally North CBD customer Christina, 84, picking up her first supplements since lockdown

Like many small businesses, Naturally North has faced challenges over the past 12 months, but has been able to adapt and survive the pandemic by taking its service online.

“We were a new business and our website was new so we had to start from scratch, building up the website traffic,” Claire says.

“Like any business, you have to adapt so we started the click and collect service. It’s almost like a drive-thru CBD shop.”

Although the business faced financial and operational issues after the pandemic hit the UK in March, Naturally North experienced a “massive” surge in demand for its products when the store reopened after the first national lockdown.

The shop experienced a similar surge in the run-up to Christmas. However, the third and current lockdown has been more “frustrating” for the business as Claire says she is seeing the financial impact of the pandemic on her customers.

“We found ourselves having to put more offers and more sales out there to try and keep our customers,” she says.

“They struggle because they’ve got to put food ahead of anything else.”

To address the issues of cost, Naturally North is in discussion with one of its suppliers to help make CBD more financially accessible.

As the world slowly begins to emerge from the pandemic, Claire says the personal interaction with her customers is something she looks forward to having again.

“If you’re wanting to take CBD, you’ve got to look at it as the start of the journey, like you would with any kind of medical prescription,” she adds.

“It’s not one size fits all so you’ve got to be prepared to put the time in to get it right for you, it can be so individual.

“I get to build up a trust with people when I can speak to them and that’s when we get the best success with people taking CBD.”

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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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