Volteface and The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) have been successfully elected as the new secretariat for the medical cannabis on prescription APPG – bringing new bold strategy and commitment to working collaboratively with parliament, the industry and patients to improve the UK landscape.
Since legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 a number of significant barriers have formed – from a lack of awareness to the continued struggle of paediatric access. The tireless work of MPs in the APPG to date to raise awareness of these issues in parliament has been challenging and at times been met with strong opposition from the government. The new focus of the APPG seeks to find allies both in and out of parliament who can provide evidence-based and practical solutions to overcoming the existing barriers.
These areas of focus include:
- Awareness amongst the British public that it is available on prescription
- Policy model in place is limiting and should explore broader prescribing (i.e. GPs)
- Number of prescribing clinicians and the hesitancies cannabis-naive clinicians face
- Competition with the illicit market in regards to pricing, quality, distribution and cultivation
- Stigma among the British public, exploring how medical cannabis can appropriately fit into mainstream healthcare
- Highlighting the challenges of paediatric access. Families are faced with very high costs compared to adult patients and a lack of prescribers.
The new secretariat offers a vast amount of industry and medical cannabis expertise. Both Volteface and MCCS have an expansive network across politics, mainstream media, the clinical sphere, the cannabis industry, patients and advocacy groups.
Both organisations have a deep understanding of the sector and the issues facing it. With this expertise they are well positioned to help instigate adequate change.
The secretariat feels particularly strongly about collaborating with patient groups to ensure their needs are addressed and are a centre point for engaging Westminster on the issue. Alongside this, as professionals in the sector, Volteface and MCCS wants to ensure that the industry is positioned appropriately within parliament and has a voice to raise pertinent issues around the sustained development of the sector.
Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP and co-chair of the APPG for medical cannabis under prescription said: “As co-chair of the APPG I’m delighted to welcome Volteface and The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society as the new secretariat of the group. Volteface and the MCCS have a wide range of expertise which will be extremely valuable moving forward.
Progress has been slow since the law change almost 5 years ago, so it is vital that we keep this conversation alive. I’m looking forward to working alongside our new secretariat in addressing the barriers to accessing medical cannabis under prescription and I hope we can start to see change happen.”
Paul North, Director of Volteface said: “It is imperative that we work together to improve medical cannabis access and prescribing in the UK. The key to that collaboration is through parliament – an environment which can facilitate learning, find solutions to complex problems and lead to the formation of effective policy. Volteface has been engaging MPs and policy makers since its inception in 2017 and we are well aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Alongside our friends and colleagues at MCCS we are determined to provide MPs with the resources, knowledge and steer they need to improve medical cannabis prescribing in the UK.”
Katya Kowalski, Head of Operations of Volteface said: “I’m thrilled to be working with the APPG and the MCCS to advance the conversation around medical cannabis in parliament. Working in the sector it has been so frustrating to see the dialogue stagnate politically. There is still so much that needs to be done, particularly around effectively communicating the state of play to policy makers to raise awareness about the legality and accessibility of this medicine. There are a multitude of issues that need to be addressed for the sector to thrive and for patients to be tended to, and I look forward to advancing this through our role within the APPG.”
Leon Barron, Chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society said: “I am delighted that the MCCS along with Volteface have been appointed as secretariat to the APPG on medical cannabis. We look forward to moving this conversation forwards and to bridge the gap between policy makers, clinicians, and academics. Medical cannabis is being utilised widely across the globe and has proven efficacy for a range of chronic conditions. It can play a crucial role in relieving suffering and enhancing overall quality of life. Our priority must be to find pragmatic solutions to the barriers that are restricting eligible patients in the UK accessing these medicines and we must ensure that all doctors, including GPs feel well informed and confident in prescribing medical cannabis.”
Hannah Deacon Executive Director of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society said: “It is an honour to be appointed secretariat to the APPG on medical cannabis.. I am excited to be working with Volteface who have proven experience in this area and together I feel we will make an important contribution to ensuring the APPG continues to push forward to issues that patients, clinicians and the medical cannabis industry face. I know only too well of the suffering that patients continue to endure and the difficulties clinicians face in trying to access this prescribable medicine for their patients. I hope working together we can help move things forward to a place where patients and clinicians are better served and the industry is able to function in a more streamlined manner.”