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APPG on medical cannabis elects new secretariat with ‘bold strategy’ to make change

Volteface and The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) say they will bring about a new bold strategy to the APPG.

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The focus of the APPG will be to seek allies both in and out of parliament.

The Medical Cannabis on Prescription APPG has appointed two industry organisations as its new secretariat, bringing a new ‘bold strategy and vision’ to instigate change.

Volteface and The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS), announced on Wednesday 14 June, that the two have been elected as the new secretariat of the APPG for medical cannabis on prescription.

With a vast amount of industry and medical cannabis expertise, the two organisations say they will bring about a new bold strategy and commitment to working collaboratively with parliament, the industry and patients to improve the UK landscape.

Since the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 a number of significant barriers to access been identified, from a lack of awareness to the continued struggle of paediatric patients. 

The APPG was set up in 2018 to help secure appropriate access to medical cannabis on the NHS in its various forms. The work of MPs in the APPG to raise awareness of the issues in parliament has been challenging and has at times been met with strong opposition from the government. 

Announcing the news in a press release, the newly-appointed secretariat says the focus of the APPG will be to seek allies both in and out of parliament, who can provide evidence-based and practical solutions to overcoming the existing barriers.

These areas of focus include:

  1. Awareness amongst the British public that it is available on prescription 
  2. Policy model in place is limiting and should explore broader prescribing (i.e. GPs)
  3. Number of prescribing clinicians and the hesitancies cannabis-naive clinicians face 
  4. Competition with the illicit market in regards to pricing, quality, distribution and cultivation 
  5. Stigma among the British public, exploring how medical cannabis can appropriately fit into mainstream healthcare
  6. Highlighting the challenges of paediatric access. Families are faced with very high costs compared to adult patients and a lack of prescribers. 

Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP and co-chair of the APPG, commented: “As co-chair of the APPG I’m delighted to welcome Volteface and The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society as the new secretariat of the group. Volteface and the MCCS have a wide range of expertise which will be extremely valuable moving forward. 

“Progress has been slow since the law change almost five years ago, so it is vital that we keep this conversation alive. I’m looking forward to working alongside our new secretariat in addressing the barriers to accessing medical cannabis under prescription and I hope we can start to see change happen.”

Bringing a deep understanding of the sector 

Volteface is an advocacy and communications organisation seeking to reduce the harm drugs pose to individuals to society. The MCCS is an independent non-profit community of medical cannabis clinicians, working to broaden the understanding of clinicians and health care providers on the therapeutic benefits and safe prescription of cannabis-based medicines.

Both have a deep understanding of the sector and the issues facing it, as well as an expansive network across politics, mainstream media, the clinical sphere, the cannabis industry, patients and advocacy groups. 

With this expertise the two believe they are well positioned to help instigate adequate change. 

Paul North, director of Volteface said: “It is imperative that we work together to improve medical cannabis access and prescribing in the UK. The key to that collaboration is through parliament – an environment which can facilitate learning, find solutions to complex problems and lead to the formation of effective policy.

“Volteface has been engaging MPs and policy makers since its inception in 2017 and we are well aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Alongside our friends and colleagues at MCCS we are determined to provide MPs with the resources, knowledge and steer they need to improve medical cannabis prescribing in the UK.”

Katya Kowalski, head of operations, added: “Working in the sector it has been so frustrating to see the dialogue stagnate politically. There is still so much that needs to be done, particularly around effectively communicating the state of play to policy makers to raise awareness about the legality and accessibility of this medicine.”

Engaging with patient groups and industry

The secretariat feels particularly strongly about collaborating with patient groups to ensure their needs are addressed and are a centre-point for engaging Westminster on the issue. 

Alongside this, as professionals in the sector, Volteface and MCCS want to ensure that the industry is positioned appropriately within parliament and has a voice to raise pertinent issues around the sustained development of the sector.

Hannah Deacon, executive director of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, who successfully campaigned to obtain a prescription for her son Alfie in 2018, said: “It is an honour to be appointed secretariat to the APPG on medical cannabis. I am excited to be working with Volteface who have proven experience in this area and together I feel we will make an important contribution to ensuring the APPG continues to push forward the issues that patients, clinicians and the medical cannabis industry face.

“I know only too well of the suffering that patients continue to endure and the difficulties clinicians face in trying to access this prescribed medicine for their patients. I hope working together we can help move things forward to a place where patients and clinicians are better served and the industry is able to function in a more streamlined manner.”

Leon Barron, chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, added: “We look forward to moving this conversation forwards and to bridge the gap between policy makers, clinicians, and academics. Medical cannabis is being utilised widely across the globe and has proven efficacy for a range of chronic conditions. It can play a crucial role in relieving suffering and enhancing overall quality of life.  

“Our priority must be to find pragmatic solutions to the barriers that are restricting eligible patients in the UK accessing these medicines and we must ensure that all doctors, including GPs feel well informed and confident in prescribing medical cannabis.”

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Home » Industry » APPG on medical cannabis elects new secretariat with ‘bold strategy’ to make change

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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