The UK Medical Cannabis Patient Conference returns next month as it marks the fifth anniversary of the law change in 2018. Here’s what to expect on the day.
The UK’s first conference dedicated to medicinal cannabis patients is due to return for a second time on Friday 3 November, 2023, hosted by Drug Science and Medcan Family Foundation, with support from the Cannabis Industry Council.
Taking place as part of the annual Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, the event will once again present the opportunity to share experiences and celebrate one another’s journeys.
Panels throughout the day will see discussions on the future of medicinal cannabis in the UK, new innovations, patients’ legal rights and the challenges of reaching those patients outside of the existing cannabis community.
Speakers will be made up of patients, prescribers and advocates, as well as representatives from the industry. Some of the major UK condition charities will also be taking part in the discussions including leaders from Parkinson’s UK, Ehlers-Danlos Support UK and Tourette’s Hero.
The day will also feature a screening of the new documentary, Sisters Interrupted, following its UK premiere at Raindance Film Festival. The film tells the story of sisters Chelsea and Tamsin Leyland, who both live with epilepsy, and Chelsea’s fight for Tamsin to be able to access medicinal cannabis in the UK.
The film’s director, Caroline Sharp and producer Sophie Daniel, will take part in a Q&A after the screening, hosted by Medcan Family Foundation co-founder, Matt Hughes.
“Sisters interrupted is a heartbreaking story and truly highlights the barriers Tamsin faces and the continued barriers many families here in the UK face,” Hughes said.
“I look forward to opening up this conversation and the particular issues faced by those diagnosed with treatment resistant epilepsy.“
Drug Science, head of projects and communications, Mags Houston, added: “Drug Science is thrilled to be leading the organisation of the second UK Patient Conference this year for Medical Cannabis Awareness Week with the support of various cannabis industry partners.
“The challenge for us remains: how do we burst outside of the industry bubble? Reaching those audiences still affected by many decades of stigma, people who are not currently considering whole plant cannabis as the medicine we know it is – they are the people we hope will take notice of what we have to say during Medical Cannabis Awareness Week this year.”
Here we’ve answered some questions you might have about the event, including the schedule, location and how to get tickets.
Where is the event ?
The event is being held in person at Conway Hall in London, as well as being streamed online. The venue is fully accessible and should you need any assistance during the day, a team of volunteers will be on hand to help.
Who is the event aimed at?
The UK Patient Conference is open to the general public, created for medical cannabis patients and anyone interested in learning more about cannabis-based medicines. It aims to bridge the wide gap between the professional cannabis industry and existing events which have more of a focus on recreational consumption.
Will I be able to consume my medication on site?
The venue will have a dedicated room for patients to consume their cannabis-based medications. Please ensure you have a copy of your prescription on your person to show security staff when asked.
What food and drink will be available?
Teas, coffees, natural juices, handmade cakes, sandwiches, and other items will be available on the day for everyone from the venue’s cafeteria. You are also welcome to bring your own food and drink (non-alcoholic) from outside as there are lots of shops and cafes nearby.
What is the line-up on the day?
The doors open at 10am, with the first panel of the day at 10.45am. Take a look at the full schedule below:
10:00: Doors open
10:45: Innovation: new formulations & methods of consumption
Although the number of products on offer is improving, the UK is lagging behind other markets where patients and prescribers have a much wider choice when it comes to modes of administration, from edibles and inhalation devices to topicals and suppositories. By relying on flower and oils are we preventing some patients from accessing what could be a life-changing medicine and/or limiting its potential benefits?
12:00: Making cannabis accessible to the masses
There is a great deal of stigma attached to cannabis as a result of decades of prohibition. It is misunderstood by many who have not had any experience with it, and can be scary for the uninitiated. In what way might we need to rethink how we communicate information about cannabis – from language to imagery? We will discuss some of the ways we can improve understanding and awareness to a cannabis-naive audience.
13:00: Lunch break
13:30: ‘Sisters Interrupted’ film screening
14:30: ‘Sisters Interrupted’ Q&A
15:00: Your legal rights as a patient
The law around cannabis can be confusing – it is neither universally understood nor applied. With this being the case, how do patients know where they stand, especially when many police officers remain uninformed about the legal status of medical cannabis in the UK? We discuss what the rules are, as well as some of the practical steps patients can take to protect themselves and better understand their rights.
16:15: Medical cannabis five years on
Five years on from the law change, fewer than five patients have been issued unlicensed cannabis medicines through the NHS, in comparison to 140,000 private prescriptions. We will reflect on the developments over the last five years and discuss what the future of cannabis medicine looks like in the UK. Is it time to be realistic about taking the pharmaceutical route if we want to see wider access on the NHS? Or should the medical establishment embrace the holistic, patient-first approach to healthcare that cannabis calls for?
17:15: Closing remarks
How do I get tickets?
Tickets to access the live stream are £5 and £15 to attend in person. They are available to purchase here
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