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Hempcrete: architects in Paris create first public building using the biomaterial

The architects hope it will be the first of many public buildings across France to use the biomaterial

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Architects Lemoal Lemoal has created the country’s first public building, the Pierre Chevet sports centre built from hempcrete in France.

The 380 square metre sports centre is based in the town of Croissy-Beaubourg near Paris. The building contains an exercise hall and changing rooms. The walls are infilled with hempcrete blocks. The outside of the building is covered in cement fibre panels that protect the blocks. Inside features wooden half-vaulted structures that meet the hempcrete walls for support proving space without columns.

Hempcrete construction

The blocks were made using lime mixed with hemp hurds which are the woody inner parts of the stems of the hemp plant. The wooden stems were originally viewed as a waste part of the plant after the oil had been extracted. The hemp panels were grown and fabricated within 500 kilometres of the construction site which reduced transport emissions while helping the local economy.

The lower sections of the walls were treated with hemp plaster which is a technique usually used to conceal the material’s texture. Some of the walls were left untreated to reveal the blocks and help with the acoustic quality of the building.

It can be assembled dry and has an interlocking system that does not need adhesive or mortar. It also has natural insulation quality helping to keep the building warm.

Lemoal Lemoal hopes this will encourage other architects to use hempcrete in public buildings.

Read more: Could hemp help to reduce climate change and environmental damage?

Hempcrete: The exterior of a sports hall in paris clad in white. Its a low square building

Image credit: Lemoal Lemoal

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Hempcrete vs concrete

Hempcrete has many benefits including environmental. It takes less water than concrete to produce making it a greener alternative.

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Concrete is responsible for almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. In cities, concrete causes a heat-island effect by absorbing the warmth of the sun and trapping gases from car exhausts. Hemp can absorb large amounts of carbon and is considered a ‘carbon-negative material. More carbon is removed by the plant than emitted by its use on-site.

The speed that hemp grows means it is a faster alternative to timber in buildings. The woody stem supports the plant that can grow up to 4.5 meters in 4 months in the UK climate. When growing, it is naturally pest-resistant so does not need chemical fertilisers or insecticides.

It also has high thermal and acoustic properties while being fire resistant to the REI 30 standard which means it will hold up for 30 minutes in a fire.

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GMC must address “serious concerns” over BPNA guidelines on prescribing medical cannabis

An open letter has been signed by more than 30 parents and carers of children with intractable epilepsy

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Ben Griffiths, 11, who suffers from treatment-resistant epilepsy

Dozens of parents whose children rely on medical cannabis have written to the General Medical Council (GMC) outlining their concerns about the blocks to access.

More than 40 parents and carers of children who are prescribed medical cannabis to treat conditions such as intractable  epilepsy have signed an open letter to the GMC outlining a number of issues.

Earlier this week, 50 medical professionals issued a letter  from the Medical Cannabis Clinician’s Society, expressing their concerns over the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BNPA) guidelines on prescribing unlicensed cannabis medicines.

The letter, which was published in the Times,  claims that the guidelines play a part in denying medical cannabis treatment for children with epilepsy, many of whom have had their lives significantly improved it.

It includes a comment from an expert witness in a case brought to the GMC by the BPNA, reported as stating that: ‘The BPNA position that only paediatric neurologists should initiate treatment is not supported by other national guidance, and probably not in the best interests of children, as it may impede debate and research into the appropriate use of Cannabidiol (sic) in refractory epilepsy’.

In response the parents of these children say they felt moved to write directly to the GMC to express “serious concerns”.

In the letter they stress that they feel the guidance issued by the BPNA plays a significant role in preventing doctors from prescribing.

It states: “The quote from the GMC expert witness highlights that the BPNA guidance is ‘not supported by other national guidance’.

“From our knowledge of these matters, we believe that this other national guidance may well be that from NHS England, NICE and indeed, to some extent, your own.

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“If a professional medical body is producing guidance that is ‘probably not in the best interests’ of the patient cohort at issue, surely that matter should be investigated and then appropriate steps taken to ensure that the guidance in question is corrected?

GMC must address families denied access

Ben Griffiths, 11, who suffers from treatment-resistant epilepsy, and mum Joanne.

Speaking with Cannabis Health, Joanne Griffiths, mother of Ben, 11, who suffers from treatment-resistant epilepsy, said: “We felt moved, as a group of parents and carers with loved ones affected by intractable epilepsy, to write to the GMC to ask that they address what we believe to be serious concerns relating to the BPNA position on the prescription of medical cannabis following the recent article in The Times.”

Joanne added: “This is clearly extremely concerning and needs to be addressed. The almost total block on NHS prescriptions is causing untold huge emotional and financial distress to our families.”

Open letter

The parents also highlight the ‘dramatic’ benefits of medical cannabis for these children, but says that the lack of prescriptions on the NHS means parents are facing the ‘daunting and emotionally and financially draining’ burden of finding the money to fund the medication privately.

The letter states: “Without exception our loved ones have shown very significant improvements in their symptoms following the administration of medical cannabis.

“In many cases, the improvements could more accurately be described as ‘dramatic’ with children who were suffering up to hundreds of seizures a day and being rendered semi-comatose due to the effects of conventional pharmaceutical drugs being able to lead almost normal drugs.

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“However, since the law change, to the best of our knowledge, there have only been three NHS prescriptions for whole-plant extract medical cannabis for cases of paediatric epilepsy. The rest of us have had to face the daunting and emotionally and financially draining burden of having to find up to £2,000 a month to fund the medicine privately

“Raising this money is a massive challenge in normal times. During Covid, it has been impossible.”

The parents have now called on the GMC to address their concerns, stating that failure to do so may mean doctors may be “unwittingly failing” in their ethical duty to patients.

The letter is open for other parents to sign and can be accessed through the Boisterous Ben Facebook page or Twitter.

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“Children’s lives are at risk” – let GPs prescribe medical cannabis, says paediatric neurologist

Dr Adelaida Martinez has called for GPs to be able to prescribe medical cannabis to children with severe epilepsy.

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Murray Gray has been seizure free for over two years on medical cannabis.

A leading paediatric neurologist has called for GPs to be able to prescribe medical cannabis to children with severe epilepsy.

Dr Adelaida Martinez, a consultant at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children in London, is one of the few paediatric neurologists who prescribed medical cannabis to children with retractable epilepsy.

Dr Martinez, who has now retired, has written to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid outlining her concerns for these patients, who without access to this medication would be left “fighting for their lives”.

The words come following the publication of an open-letter signed by over 50 healthcare professionals about the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) guidelines, which they say prevent doctors from prescribing cannabis-based medicines.

Dr Martinez claims that she has looked for an alternative paediatric neurologist to take over her patients but this has proved to be “extremely difficult”. According to the letter there is currently only one doctor in the UK taking patients on a case by case basis through a private clinic.

There are real fears among patients and their families that the lack of paediatric neurologists willing to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK will leave patients unable to access this medication at all.

Calls for GPs to prescribe

Dr Martinez wrote to the Health Secretary before retiring just days ago, but so far there has been no response.

In her letter she calls for a policy change to allow GPs to prescribe, as is the case with other unlicensed, controlled medicines.

Currently in the UK only specialist consultants are permitted to prescribe unlicensed cannabis medicines or a GP under the consultant’s direction.

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Dr Martinez wrote: “Children who have epilepsy which is alleviated by cannabis medication should be able to have prescriptions fulfilled by their GPs. This is exactly the same process as already exists for any other type of unlicensed controlled drug in the United Kingdom.

“I know a majority of the GPs dealing with this group of children wish to prescribe but in order to do so this requires a change in policy… because it is CBD medication which has been treated differently to other controlled drugs.”

Future prescriptions

Parents are concerned that their children’s lives will be placed at risk without access to this medication.

According to Dr Martinez, most have been taking it for at least two years and have been “stable or significantly improved” during this time.

Karen Gray’s son Murray, has a rare form of epilepsy known as Doose syndrome. He has been seizure free for over two years on medical cannabis.

Karen told Cannabis Health: “A policy change is all we need to secure our children’s prescriptions. Without this medication, our children’s lives will be at risk. Our GPs are willing to write the prescriptions, however Sajid Javid is the only person that can make this happen.”

Read more: CBD may reduce effects of anti-seizure medication

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California governor signs ‘Ryan’s Law’ allowing cannabis for terminally ill patients

Ryan’s Law is allow for medical cannabis use for terminally ill patients on hospital grounds although it will not allow smoking or vaping

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California: Two white tubs of medical cannabis on a wooden surface. A doctor is writing a prescription

Ryan’s Law or The Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients to use medical cannabis in certain situations on hospital grounds.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Ryan’s Law legislation into law to expand end-of-life treatment and pain relief options for terminally ill patients.

In a press release, Senator Hueso who raised the bill stated: “It is inconceivable to me that, in a state where medical cannabis was legalized more than 25 years ago, those in deepest suffering receiving treatment in our state’s healthcare facilities cannot access this proven, effective, and prescribed treatment.”

“Instead, terminally-ill patients in California healthcare facilities are given heavy opiates that rob them of their precious last moments with family and friends. This is a simple, yet critical, move that will provide relief, compassion and dignity to terminally-ill Californians.”

Members of the California Assembly and Senate advanced legislation to the governor’s desk earlier this year, which would allow medical cannabis products in hospitals and care facilities. The bill, Senate Bill 311 provides for a terminally ill patient’s use of medical cannabis within a healthcare facility. It will prevent patients from using inhalers or vapes and bans cannabis from the emergency room.

The legislation was partly inspired by a father who was initially denied access to cannabis at a California hospital while his son was dying from cancer. Jim Bartell eventually gained access to a facility that allowed the treatment and said his son’s life dramatically improved in his final few days.

California Bill

In July, the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Ben Hueso, drafted a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services to inquire if allowing cannabis use on hospital grounds may cause issues with federal funding. Senator Hueso has repeatedly fought to allow cannabis use in medical facilities for terminally ill patients.

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So far, only a few states allow cannabis products for hospitalised patients such as Maine and Connecticut.

The California State Assembly voted 57-1 to approve the bill earlier in September, and the Senate approved the other chamber’s amendments in a 36-1 vote.

The bill reads: “(it) would require specified types of health care facilities to allow a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, subject to certain restrictions,”

“The bill would require a patient to provide the health care facility with a copy of their medical marijuana card or written documentation that the use of medicinal cannabis is recommended by a physician.

“The bill would require a health care facility to reasonably restrict the manner in which a patient stores and uses medicinal cannabis to ensure the safety of other patients, guests, and employees of the health care facility, compliance with other state laws, and the safe operations of the health care facility.”

California government

Although this attempt has been successful, it was originally vetoed by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom who was concerned it could create conflict between federal and state law. Newsom has only just defeated a recall attempt after voters chose him over a Republican candidate.

The US Hemp Round Table, A cannabis coalition group stated: “We’re excited to report that a final deal has been reached with Governor Gavin Newsom to move to the final passage of AB 45, our long term effort to explicitly permit the retail sale of hemp-derived extracts such as CBD in California.  And a highlight of that compromise was the removal of language to ban hemp smokables in the state – replaced by a phase-in approach that will permit their sale to adults and the immediate manufacture of smokable products to be sold in other states.”

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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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