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Cannabis year-in-review: 22 takeaways from 2022

From groundbreaking studies to patient perspectives, here’s what happened in the world of UK cannabis (and beyond) in 2022



Cannabis year-in-review: 22 takeaways from 2022
This year saw some exciting developments for cannabis across Europe. Photos: Unsplash, Pexels, Adobe Stock, Cannabis Health

This year saw some exciting developments for cannabis across Europe, but the UK’s medical cannabis system must do more to support patients. 

In 2022 new research showed promising potential for cannabis to treat pain, depression, Covid-19 and even Alzheimer’s; Germany announced plans to legalise adult-use cannabis; and the number of medical cannabis patients in Europe grew by approximately 100,000.

Yet 2022 also shone a blinding spotlight on the complexity and complacency of the UK’s medical cannabis system and exposed the (many) barriers facing patients seeking cannabis-based care. Can we hope for change in 2023? 

Here are 22 articles covering the key cannabis topics of 2022:

Cleaning up the UK’s messy medical cannabis system


1. Landmark report reveals why many UK doctors are not prescribing medical cannabis

More than 40,000 specialist clinicians are eligible to prescribe cannabis across the UK, but only around 100 (0.25%) are actively doing so. Cannabis must be treated the same as any other medication if we want to see mainstream prescribing in the UK, say doctors. Discover more key findings from the report. 


2. Revealed: ‘major disconnect’ between NHS and private cannabis prescribing

More than six in 10 NHS Foundation Trusts in England (61%) say they did not prescribe any cannabis-based medicines in 2021. Just 977 patients were treated with cannabis-based medicines through the NHS in 2021, equating to nine individuals per trust. Yet over 20,000 patients currently receive unlicensed medical cannabis products privately for a range of conditions from chronic pain to anxiety. Why the prescription gap between NHS and private care?


3. Approximately 1.8million people in the UK self-medicate with cannabis four years on from law change

A significant proportion of the population (48.6%) are still unaware that medical cannabis is legally available on prescription and has been since November 2018. Around 1.8million people with diagnosed medical conditions are turning to illegally obtained cannabis to manage their illness. Find out why.


4. Why are some UK patients choosing legacy over legal cannabis?

Surveys highlight that many patients in the UK still access cannabis medication through the illegal legacy market, despite cannabis being legally available on prescription since 2018. Cannabis Health explores why. Hear from patients.


5. GPs should prescribe medical cannabis, says industry review

Industry experts recommend the roll-out of a national trial which would see GPs permitted to prescribe cannabis-based medicinal products alongside specialist consultants. Among 20 recommendations made by the report, the authors suggest an ‘opt-in model’ which would give GPs the option to consent to prescribing cannabis-based medicines and participating in data collection to help inform future guidelines. What else does the report say?


6. Five takeaways from the UK’s first cannabis patient conference

Patients were given a platform to share their personal journeys, as well as their perspectives on the current medical cannabis landscape. The venue even provided a designated outdoor vaping area to allow patients to consume their medication on site. Explore our key insights from the conference.


7. Family left ‘reeling’ after NHS neurologist turns their back on cannabis patient

Medical cannabis helped Louis Petit manage a rare form of epilepsy and remain seizure-free for two years. His neurologist was amazed by the effect medical cannabis had on his seizures and was even willing to prescribe it through the NHS, but at the last moment they withdrew support out of the blue. But why


8. Patient’s cannabis case sets new precedent in UK court

In a case that has been described as earmarking “a wind of change” for the UK, Andrew Baines, 46, has received the lowest possible punishment for supplying hundreds of patients with medical cannabis. Learn more about Andrew’s story.


9. 10 key patient takeaways from Cannabis Europa

In a welcome move by the organisers, this year several panels focused specifically on voicing the patient perspective, digging deeper into the highs and lows of the sector as it stands today. Out of all the information that was shared, we broke down some of the key takeaways for current and prospective medical cannabis patients in the UK. Read more here


In other news: cannabis beyond the UK 


10. Number of legal cannabis patients in Europe grew by approximately 100,000 in 2022

The majority of people in Europe now live in countries with some form of access to medical cannabis products, says a new report. Approximately 342,000 patients legally use the treatment across the continent. But access remains an issue for many. Dive into the data.


11. Ukraine’s battle for medical cannabis – the campaigners on the frontline

While the war against Russia rages on, medical cannabis advocates in Ukraine say access is vital as the country faces an impending mental health crisis. How can the global cannabis community help? What should the future look like for medical cannabis in Ukraine? Hear from activists on the frontlines.


12. Medical cannabis and pregnancy – what you need to know

While doctors cannot prescribe cannabis during pregnancy in the UK, we know that thousands of women do continue to consume for a variety of reasons. We spoke to the experts – and the women who felt it was the right decision for them – to help others make an informed choice. Find out what they had to say.


13. Germany’s official plans for cannabis legalisation a ‘victory’ for consumers

Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) presented the 12 key points of regulation to the country’s Federal Cabinet. Under the proposals, cannabis will no longer be classed as a narcotic and citizens over the age of 18 will be free to carry up to 30g of cannabis for personal use, with consumption in public spaces permitted after 8pm. Find out more about Germany’s plans to legalise cannabis.


14. Switzerland’s ‘Weed Care’ trial of adult-use cannabis to launch January 2023

Switzerland’s so-called ‘Weed Care’ trial, the first pilot program to study the effects of adult-use cannabis legalisation in Europe, is set to launch at the end of January 2023. The study will help inform ‘responsible’ cannabis regulations for the country. Find out how the study will work.


15. OPINION: Five-year sentence for Ireland cannabis caregiver is ‘brutal’ and ‘wildly disproportionate’

Irish dad-of-two, Patrick Moore, was sentenced to five years for the cultivation and supply of cannabis, much of which was donated to severely ill patients. The tragic consequences will be felt by many, writes friend and long-time activist, Peter Reynolds. Learn more about Patrick and his cannabis caregiving. 


Cannabis research: what the science says


16. Study suggests cannabis may lessen severity of Covid-19 symptoms

Interest in the potential of cannabis and cannabinoids to prevent or lessen the severity of Covid-19 symptoms is growing. In one study, researchers noted that cannabis consumers entered hospital with lower levels of inflammation than non-users and had “significantly better” outcomes. How else could cannabis alleviate Covid-19? 


17. ‘Strong evidence’ for cannabis as treatment for Alzheimer’s, says review

Researchers say that the potential neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids could have a role in treating common neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Several phytocannabinoids, terpenes and select flavonoids demonstrated neuroprotection through a ‘myriad of cellular and molecular pathways’, the authors said. Explore the evidence.


18. Study finds no scientific basis for the ‘lazy stoner’ stereotype

A common stereotype of cannabis users is the ‘stoner’ – think The Dude in The Big Lebowski, or, more recently, Argyle in Stranger Things. These are characters who are generally depicted as lazy and apathetic. But this is not necessarily the case. According to new research, adult and adolescent cannabis users are no more likely than non-users to lack motivation or be unable to enjoy life’s pleasure. What else does the study say?


19. New data supports use of medical cannabis for anxiety and depression

Canadian researchers surveyed over 7,000 patients authorised to access medical cannabis products in what is thought to be the largest study of its kind. Findings show that patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression report sustained improvements following the use of cannabis. Dive in deeper here. 


20. Largest ever cannabinoid trial on pain finds significant improvement

Results from a large-scale cannabinoid trial demonstrated ‘clinically meaningful’ improvements in pain across the different formulations of CBD and rare cannabinoids studied. Involving more than 1,600 participants from across the US, the companies said the study is the first of its kind to examine the synergistic impact of rare cannabinoids like Cannabichromene (CBC) and Cannabigerol (CBG) on pain. What else did researchers discover?


21. CBD helps offset anxiety brought on by THC, finds clinical trial

Ever experience anxiety or feelings of paranoia after consuming THC? A new clinical study suggests that people who consume cannabis containing balanced amounts of THC and CBD report feeling less anxious than they do after consuming THC-dominant cannabis. Learn more about how CBD and THC complement each other.


22. Why you should choose cannabis based on smell, not THC levels – study

A new study was the first to demonstrate that a pleasant aroma – as opposed to THC potency or dose– is associated with a more positive experience with inhaled cannabis flower. The results could have important public health implications, given the ‘well-established health risks of THC overuse’ say the authors. Find out why the ‘Nose knows’ best. 

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Nellie is an award-winning writer, editor and content creator specialising in sustainable development, climate justice, oceans, cities, food and cannabis (to name a few). She is a passionate systems thinker and loves bringing people's stories to life through words, data, imagery, and other creative formats. Nellie has lived and worked in NYC, Los Angeles, Rhode Island, and London in a range of leadership roles across media, policy and business. She currently lives in Worthing, the "hackney-on-sea" of the south coast, where she serves as Communications Chair for the local Green Party.


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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