2021 undoubtedly holds exciting opportunities for cannabis reform. The last few months of 2020 have been promising for global reform, as we’ve witnessed a shift toward evidence over ideology. Despite some good news, the work is far from done. We will continue to advocate for evidence-based drug policy through highlighting the economic, social and medical arguments for reform. This year, Volteface has big plans ahead. We aim to achieve a variety of goals whilst continuing to stay true to our mission.
What are the key aims Volteface looks to achieve in 2021?
1. Improve patient access to medical cannabis.
Although it has been over two years since medical cannabis was legalised in the UK, problems persist with patient access. The law may have changed, but not much else has. This must be addressed – more is necessary and patients deserve better access.
Licensed cannabis-based medicines are available but are received by few patients compared to the 1.4 million individuals which are eligible for a prescription. Prescriptions remain extortionately expensive, meaning patients requiring medication are unable to afford medical-grade cannabis.
We will continue to participate in this fight, campaigning to accelerate reform for cheaper and more accessible medical cannabis prescriptions via the NHS.
2. Highlight the benefits of medical cannabis and CBD businesses for the UK economy.
It is essential that the UK opens up for business in the cannabis sector. This will not only create jobs but advance medical innovation, cannabinoid research and improve patient access to medicine. The UK is in an excellent position to take a leading role in this sector.
With Brexit and Covid, this is a much needed investment opportunity for the UK economy. Medical cannabis is an opportunity to bring necessary and important revenue.
This aim will be achieved through our campaign New Leaf Opportunities. We will work to ensure that cannabis investment is viewed positively and celebrated for the incredible potential it holds for the UK across various sectors.
3. Continue to strengthen ties and broaden our horizons across Europe to harmonise cannabis reform.
European nations are all largely at different stages of their cannabis reform journey. This makes it essential to streamline communication with European advocates in order to learn from each other to advance reform.
We will continue to achieve this through our recently launched European Cannabis Advocacy Network (ECAN). This network aims to increase the momentum for reform as a communications platform for advocates to share latest European policy developments.
4. Reform current UK hemp laws, to allow for the extraction of CBD from UK hemp.
Despite being a versatile, high value and environmentally beneficial crop, hemp remains classified as a niche crop limiting cultivation in the UK. These restrictions prevent the processing and extraction of CBD, wasting resources and limiting cultivation.
We will achieve this aim through Pleasant Lands; a campaign to allow for the extraction of CBD from UK hemp, to raise awareness and unlock opportunities for farmers and small businesses. We will highlight why the current legal framework disadvantages farmers, the benefits of CBD extraction and make specific recommendations to the government with a legal pathway to reform.
5. Advance discussions and the momentum for recreational cannabis reform.
In 2021 we will continue to stay true to our roots, focusing on campaigning for evidence-based drug policy reform. Despite positive steps toward reform, a lot must still change. Volteface will continue to break down stigma, busting the myths and misconceptions surrounding cannabis.
This year we will particularly focus on the changing image of cannabis. With incredible innovation taking place globally, it is essential we discuss the benefits of a developing market and the door of possibilities that exist when we innovate.
We will achieve this by campaigning to raise awareness on the ways cannabis can be used. It is necessary that we educate the public on the cannabis plant, continuing to practice evidence-based recommendations and highlight the range of arguments for how reform would be beneficial.
2021 holds plenty of opportunities for wide-ranging reform from a variety of angles. Volteface looks forward to achieving these five aims through our projects and campaigns this year.
Katya Kowalski is Stakeholder Engagement Officer at Volteface. Tweets @KowalskiKatya