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Cannabis-in-brief: US rescheduling, wider NHS access, Long Covid and workplace discrimination

Your weekly debrief of the latest cannabis news.



We bring you the news you might have missed from the week just gone.

The top lines: Health officials in the US have recommended that cannabis be rescheduled to a ‘lower risk’ drug, while the UK Home Affairs Committee called for wider access to cannabis on the NHS.

Elsewhere, a new report highlights the discrimination facing patients in the workplace, rates of consumption among older adults have reached an all-time high in the US, and researchers have highlighted the potential of cannabis in the treatment of Long Covid.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the headlines from the last week:

Top US health officials recommend rescheduling cannabis

A leaked letter, seen by Bloomberg News and dated Tuesday 29 August, revealed that the HHS has recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

This would mean that it would no longer be classed as a ‘high risk’ drug alongside the likes of heroin, LSD and ecstacy. 

The recommendation comes 10 months after President Joe Biden announced he was calling on federal agencies to review how cannabis is classified, as well as his intention to pardon thousands of offences related to possession.

The DEA, which has the final authority on the scheduling or rescheduling of drugs, will now launch its own review, according to a spokesperson.  If completed, the rescheduling could have major implications for the cannabis sector.

Read more here 

Home Affairs Committee calls for wider NHS access to medical cannabis

In its latest report on drugs, the UK Home Affairs Committee recommends that the government widens access to cannabis medicines on the NHS, but cites ‘concerns’ over non-medical use.

 The new report, published by the Home Affairs Committee on Thursday 31 August, sets out a number of recommendations for the government on current drug policy. 

As part of its findings it expresses ‘concern’ around the lack of NHS access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) and urges ministers to address this before the end of the next parliament.

While the recognition of the issues around medical cannabis is welcome, drug reform advocates have expressed disappointment regarding the committee’s position on wider cannabis reform.

The report states it ‘does not believe cannabis should be legalised and regulated for non-medical use’ due to concern over the ‘harms this may pose’.

Read more here 


Potential of cannabis in treating Long Covid warrants further research

UK researchers say existing evidence supports the use of cannabis as a potential treatment for Long Covid, including for symptoms of sleep disturbance, fatigue, pain and anxiety. 

In a newly-published review of current studies, researchers at Drug Science have identified ‘multiple lines of evidence’ to support the use of cannabis-based medicines in the condition which affects millions of people in the UK.

The authors say their findings highlight the importance of further research being carried out in cannabis-based medicines and long covid, including looking at real-world data alongside randomised control trials (RCTs). 

Read more here 


Rising rates of cannabis use among older adults in US

Insights from a recent federally-funded survey in the US suggest that cannabis use has risen significantly in the last decade, particularly among older adults.

The 2022 Monitoring the Future panel study annual report, which tracks trends and prevalence of drug use, found that approximately 20% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 60 have consumed cannabis within the past 12 months.

When asked about their previous cannabis use, 21% of 50-year-olds and 19% of 60-year-olds said they had consumed it during the past year, the highest percentages ever recorded by the survey among this age group. Cannabis use was also shown to have increased significantly in the last 12 months among those aged 35 to 50-years-old, reaching an all-time high of 28%.

Is the older generation recognising the health and wellness benefits of the plant?

Read more here 


Cannabis patients at risk of discrimination in the workplace, says report

Employers may be breaching the Equality Act over their approach to prescription cannabis patients in the workplace, according to a new report.

Published by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), The Use of Prescription Cannabis at Work, highlights the challenges facing cannabis patients at work, offering guidance for both employers and employees. 

It comes as increasing numbers of patients say they have experienced discrimination, both at the interview stage and in the workplace, as a result of their cannabis prescription. 

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for an employee who is disabled in certain circumstances. However, the report notes that this is often not being upheld when it comes to prescription cannabis patients, who may live with chronic pain and other disabilities.

Read more here 


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