Tuesday 1st November 2022 will mark four years exactly since medical cannabis was finally legalised in the UK.
Despite the change in the law, there are a number of recurring barriers to widespread access of cannabis based medicines preventing people getting the medicine they need. What are these issues? How can we overcome them? And what opportunities are there within the industry?
This article isn’t going to answer these questions (I just don’t have the word count for that), but this is exactly what this year’s Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, beginning 1st November, will address. Organised by Patient-Led Engagement for Access (PLEA), the awareness week will run over seven days until the 7th November, with a different event taking place every day.
Friday 4th November will see the first ever UK Medical Cannabis Patient Conference, hosted by Drug Science and MedcanSuppport. Over the seven days, patients, doctors and other organisations from across the sector will take part in numerous panels and webinars exploring a range of relevant themes and topics. With prior events reaching around 60,000 people, PLEA hopes this year’s #MCAW2022 will be the biggest yet.
With the cost of living crisis raising signifcant concerns over affordability and patient access, the awareness week is a chance for both patients and prescribers to come together and discuss these issues. Organisers PLEA hope this will help break down barriers and ultimately, improve accessibility for patients.
Speaking to Volteface about the cost of living crisis and the affordability of medical cannabis, Zach Thompson, Chair of PLEA, highlighted this need to empower patients. He said: “The industry is disconnected from the reality of patients and what they can actually afford. They need to be speaking to patient organisations, going out into the groups and reaching out into the community.”
So what’s happening, when, and how can you get tickets? Well most of the panels and workshops are online, with the exception of the UK Patient Conference, which is being held in Central London. All the events are free, but you do need to register online individually for each session you want to attend.
Here’s a rundown of what’s on:
Tuesday 1st November
6pm – 7.30pm: Medical Cannabis Research on Paediatric Epilepsy Panel
Hosted by Volteface’s own Head of Operations, Katya Kowalski, this panel will bring together patient carers and researchers to explore why expanding access to medical cannabis for paediatric epilepsy has been so difficult. Representatives from MedCan Support, MCCS, Drug Science and Sana Healthcare will be taking part in the discussion. Register your interest here.
Wednesday 2nd November
6pm – 7.30pm: Women’s Health Panel
Hosted by journalist and author Mary Biles, this panel will explore how cannabis can be utilised to treat conditions such as endometriosis and the menopause, as well as the associated sleep, pain and anxiety issues these might cause. A patient will be speaking about her experience of endometriosis along with representatives and doctors from the industry. Register your interest here.
Thursday 3rd November
6pm – 7.30pm: Barriers to Access
This event will discuss the barriers facing patients in the UK regarding prescription cannabis. It will discuss three current research and access schemes operating in the UK: Project Twenty21, Sapphire Access Scheme and Grow Access Project. The panel is still TBC, but the discussion will be around the cost, stigma, misinformation, lack of support/education and lack of NHS access. Register your interest here.
Friday 4th November
10.30am – 6.30pm: UK Patient Conference
Location: Oval Space, London, E2 9DT
The biggest and in-person event of the week is the UK’s first Medical Cannabis Patient Conference, hosted by Drug Science and Medcan Support. PLEA says this daytime event will give the patient and prescriber communities the chance to come together and celebrate. It’s open to the general public, including medical cannabis patients or anyone interested in learning more about cannabis-based medicines. Organisers hope it’ll become an annual event, helping to raise the profile of the awareness week. Expect numerous speakers, panel discussions, networking and the UK premiere of a new medical cannabis documentary. Register your interest here.
Saturday 5th November
12pm – 1.30pm: Future of Cannabis Cultivation
A panel of international experts will discuss the history, intricacies and science of the cannabis plant. The host and panel are yet to be confirmed, but expect a webinar with lots of facts and expertise from the sector. Register your interest here.
Sunday 6th November
6pm – 7.30pm: Industry insights
Another panel hosted by Volteface’s Katya Kowalski, the event will discuss current industry trends and the need to amplify patients in the medical cannabis sector. Representatives from the Knowde Group, Aqualabs, Cancard and Glass Pharms will take part. Register your interest here.
Monday 7th November
6pm – 7.30pm: Condition Conversations
The last webinar of the week will explore the potential of medical cannabis treatment for a range of physical and mental health conditions. The host and panel are still TBC. Register your interest here.
To find out more about all the events being held across Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, click here.