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16 October 2019 / LYPHE GROUPBack to Newsroom

LYPHE GROUP calls for UK cannabis advocate groups to unify their objectives

Part of the LYPHE GROUP unique selling point is the way we build to open markets. We are experts in compliance and regulation, which allows us to move issues forward quickly, giving patients better access, putting more product in market and growing the markets we are in. This is a nascent industry and the rate of growth is in part down to us, so we build businesses and processes to shift the dial. 

Various other operators within the market are focussed on subtly different key areas, and the problem with so many opinions and objectives is the industry struggles to deliver progress quickly enough. A year on from the rescheduling of medical cannabis in the UK, we are seeing a fragmentation of the sector. 

There are a number of prominent cannabis groups operating in the UK space today, some new, some long-established, all ostensibly advocating for some kind of common-sense approach to cannabis. In broad terms, the focus of these organisations could be broken down into medical, trade and consumer advocacy. While we recognise the crossover amongst these organisations in their focus, we want to simplify the collective position to better articulate the current landscape.

Medical

Drug Science Founded in 2010 by Professor David Nutt following his political removal from the post of Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Drug Science is an independent, science-led drugs charity, uniquely bringing together leading drugs experts from a wide range of specialisms to carry out groundbreaking research into drug harms and effects. While their focus extends beyond cannabis, Drug Science are committed to providing an evidence based degree of reasoning for a change in drugs policy. 

UKMCCS The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society is open to any clinician with an interest in cannabis as a medicine. They provide high quality, balanced education and expert support in order to inform clinicians about the current state of evidence with regard to the efficacy of cannabis and its side effects. Training for doctors is critical – by improving clinical education, more doctors should feel confident of the safety and value of CMBPs in treating a number of indications. 

CPASS CannPASS will be providing a range of services to patients who could benefit from accessing medicinal cannabis in what is proving to be a highly restrictive environment. One of the issues in the current climate is that despite legalisation, very few patients have been able to secure private prescriptions, and to date it’s not thought any patients have had prescriptions supported by the NHS. Improving patient access in the UK is vital, and addressing patient education is equally as important as improving clinical education. 

Trade

CMC The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis is an industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products and cannabidiol wellness markets. Their primary focus at the moment seems to be in creating a rational and transparent landscape for the already booming CBD retail scene. They’ve conducted some meaningful research concerning product regulation and have highlighted a need for appropriate controls. 

CTA –  The Cannabis Trades Association is a cannabinoid centric trade association for the UK and Europe, working with all sectors of the hemp and cannabis industry to promote good practice, provide practical advice and ensure consumers of legal cannabis and hemp products have access to top quality information. Consulting closely with key health regulators like MHRA, they’re working hard to improve cooperation within the sector, with the aim of improving good practice conformity and providing more stability. 

British Hemp Association The BHA was formed by a group of hemp businesses and industry advocates. It is part of a growing worldwide movement that supports hemp and the use of the whole plant, and to promote a healthy and robust hemp industry in Britain. Promoting a high level of standards and procedures for a transparent infrastructure and supply chain is a valuable pursuit. 

Consumer 

CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform is the UK’s largest membership-based cannabis policy group and are one of, if not the, oldest and most active cannabis advocacy groups in the UK. They take a fairly unequivocal line over their criticism of traditional drugs policy and are quite forthright in their opinions on the issue. There’s no question, however, that they do represent a significant proportion of consumer opinion. 

NORML NORML UK is an extension of the older US organisation, NORML, and seek to gain recognition for the rights of people to peacefully pursue activities relating to cannabis without intervention by authorities. They have a softer approach to the deregulation of recreational cannabis than CLEAR do, but both have been important voices in shaping the cannabis conversation. 

Social Clubs The UK Cannabis Social Clubs campaign for adult legalisation of cannabis; to provide safer access, with the right to grow at home or in a shared space and purchase labelled, lab tested products through regulated outlets with proof of age. UKCSC offer practical and legal advice and guidance to Cannabis Social Clubs, politicians and police forces in order to provide a self regulatory framework to reduce risks. These social clubs have done a great deal to advance a reasoned approach to recreational cannabis. In establishing safe and supported environments for cannabis users to engage with each other and the valuable guidance available, some genuine changes have occured. In seeing the benefit these clubs can provide to local communities, some police forces have, in close cooperation, been allowing them to operate without interference on the basis of meaningful harm reduction outcomes. 

There are a number of very relevant organisations doing some outstanding work to advance medical cannabis understanding, such as the MS Society and Parkinson’s UK, and we apologise for their omission here. As these bodies have a mandate that would still exist in the absence of cannabis, we feel they do marginally sit outside the scope of this specific cannabis-industry focussed conversation. 

These organisations are all working with the best intentions, and essentially all towards common goals of sorts – a rational, responsible and sustainable environment for cannabis in the UK. 

A runaway CBD market could result in a regulatory backlash, and the work of these trade organisations is vital in insulating this young market from political and cultural reprisal. And as models for legal cannabis appear across the world, the tempered advocacy of consumer groups could well help expedite the conversation among policy makers. 

The question must be asked, though. Could we all be doing better to cooperate towards these common goals? 

The LYPHE GROUP has taken the view that sorting out medicalisation first would be an extremely effective route. Many misconceptions over cannabis linger in the public’s perspective of these substances, and with education and a positive track record, we can establish a landscape in which medical cannabis is viewed as a common and safe medicine. 

Whatever the case, it’s apparent that a more unified approach would help advance the cause. At the very least, it should be agreed that transparency of purpose and a mature tone of voice is necessary in order to make meaningful progress. Where these organisations can support each other and promote the successful activities of each, we should, and where we find disagreement we should be respectful and measured. 

We all sit on the edge of an incredibly exciting future, but one that isn’t fully secured yet. How we act will either accelerate or hinder the outcomes we all hope for. Let’s choose the correct path.