Should There Be More Funding Towards UK Cannabis Research?

Cannabis Trials in the UK

Even though medical cannabis has been legal in the UK for a few years now, many patients cannot access it because many medical practitioners still have difficulty prescribing it due to ethical concerns and a lack of evidence of its efficacy.

Unfortunately, the current state of cannabis research is that there is not enough reliable evidence to determine one way or another whether cannabis is a viable treatment.

However, trials are still ongoing in the UK, intending to discover which type of cannabinoids are most effective, doses required, and how to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, to name a few.

Ongoing Cannabis and Cancer Research

There are hundreds of published studies on cannabinoids and their effects on cancer. Even so, there is little scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of using cannabis to treat the disease.

Unfortunately, a lot of the information stating that you can treat cancer with cannabis is misleading. The studies are critical to the research, but researchers have only tested the effects of the compound on cancer cells grown in labs or on animals. The early results are promising but not conclusive and may not duplicate the same results in humans.

There have been clinical trials on people with Glioblastoma multiforme, the fastest-growing, most aggressive tumour affecting the brain and spinal cord. The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer and was the first clinical trial of its kind designed to assess cannabinoid antitumoral action.

The trial consisted of nine people, each with advanced and incurable glioblastoma multiforme. Each participant received highly purified THC via a tube inserted directly into the brain. It is quite a safe way to administer the drug and does not expose the patients to the usual side effects of THC.

The goal of the trial was to determine the safety of exposing patients to THC with this method. Unfortunately, the trial group was small and did not include a control group, so it could not be determined if the treatment extended the patients’ lives.

Largest UK Cannabis Study Shows Quality of Life Improvements

While tests for using cannabis as a treatment for cancer continue, the results from the UK’s largest-ever medical cannabis study produced convincing evidence that it can provide quality of life improvements for patients.

Patients coping with conditions like chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Tourette’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis reported improved quality of life when using medical cannabis.

The study was funded and supported by licensed medical cannabis producers, which modified the costs of their products to make them more affordable for people who weren’t getting the results they needed from conventional treatment.

Trained physicians evaluated the eligibility of candidates, who must have at least two failed treatments usually managed with opioids listed on their medical records.

After analysis of the 678 participants in the trial, the results revealed that: 

50% of patients self-reported an ability to have a more normal life.
Patients reported an increased ability to manage secondary conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Medical cannabis provides a preferable alternative to drugs like opioids that often lead to dependency issues and other serious side effects.

These findings make it easier for doctors who would otherwise find it difficult to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK.  

Research Articles:

[*1] https://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2021/09/01/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/#investigating

https://www.nature.com/articles/6603236

[*2] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/03/medical-cannabis-uk-clinical-trial-patients-nhs

[*3] https://cannabishealthnews.co.uk/2021/05/12/medicinal-cannabis-improves-quality-of-life-finds-largest-study-of-uk-patients/

 

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