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“As a community we’re more powerful than we’ve ever been” – United Patients Alliance relaunch hopes to advance patient access in the UK

United Patients Alliance (UPA) will relaunch its campaign at Brighton Medical Cannabis Summit in April.



The United Patients Alliance (UPA) is a patient-led non-profit that advocates for advancing access to medicinal cannabis in the UK.

The United Patients Alliance (UPA) Brighton Medical Cannabis Summit in April will bring together patients, doctors and other cannabis experts to discuss tackling stigma and expanding patient access in the UK. 

Despite medical cannabis being legal in the UK since 2018, stigma and access still remain a major issue for many. 

Figures from the NHS Business Service Authority show that out of more than 89,000 prescriptions for cannabis since the law change, fewer than five of these were granted through the NHS. Elsewhere, a survey found that over 80% of medicinal cannabis patients still experienced stigma despite having a legal prescription. 

The United Patients Alliance (UPA) returns to tackle medical cannabis challenges

The United Patients Alliance (UPA) is a patient-led non-profit that advocates for advancing legal access to medicinal cannabis in the UK. Founded by activist Clark French in 2014 after his own experiences using cannabis to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), UPA’ efforts were instrumental in the campaign leading up to medical cannabis legalisation.

“Having a prescription has been game-changing for me,” French told Cannabis Health.

“Having that legal protection and being able to engage with society and knowing you don’t have to fight for acceptance anymore has been everything.” 

Campaigners outside parliament call for the legalisation of medical cannabis

But there is still much work to be done to overcome hesitancy around prescribing cannabis within the medical community and expand patient access across the UK. This is one of the reasons he’s relaunching UPA after taking a hiatus to have his son and spend time with his family. 

“Unfortunately, to be fully accepted in society and for patients to stop facing discrimination, [we’re] going to have to change things again,” said French. 

“But I really believe we are so powerful as a community—more powerful than we’ve ever been.” 

Clark French (left) outside Number 10 with Professor Mike Barnes, End Our Pain and Baroness Molly Meacher.

Bringing the community together at the Brighton Cannabis Summit 

To tap into the power of this community and to tackle some of the challenges facing cannabis consumers in the UK, the UPA is hosting the Brighton Medical Cannabis Summit on 14 April 2023. 

The summit will bring together leading experts in the field, from medical professionals and scientists, to activists and patients, and will cover a wide range of topics including the latest cannabis research, the legal and regulatory landscape, and the patient experience.

“There are three main things we want to focus on at UPA and will discuss during the conference,” said French. 

“We want to raise awareness of the fact that medical cannabis is now legal and help inform patients about how they can get a prescription. We also want to campaign and lobby for increased access on the NHS and for the government to stop criminalising patients who want to grow cannabis and take their medicine into their own hands.” 

Clark French (centre) now wants to help tackle the stigma facing cannabis patients.

Speakers at the event include well-known cannabis advocates including Charlotte Caldwell, Carly Barton, Dr Callie Seaman, as well as representatives from Drug Science. Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, will also be there to share his perspective.

The summit will have a dedicated space for patients to consume their medication. You don’t have to be a medical cannabis patient to attend, all who are interested in learning more about it are welcome and there is also an option to watch via livestream.

Click here to find out more about the Summit or about the UPA’s work to support medical cannabis patients in the UK.

Home » Advocacy » “As a community we’re more powerful than we’ve ever been” – United Patients Alliance relaunch hopes to advance patient access in the UK

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.


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