The Academy of Medical Cannabis
Since the rescheduling of cannabis to a Schedule II substance in November of 2018, the weight of political opinion in the United Kingdom has clearly moved further towards the view that cannabis-based medicines should be accessible for patients in need, especially in the case of a number of young children with severely disabling epileptic conditions.
As is well known, since November, access to medical cannabis prescriptions has broadly not improved, and with regards to the now imposed inability of the Home Secretary to provide special dispensation for select cases as a result of the change in legislation, some have even argued that access has become more restrictive.
From March through late May, through a series of Health and Social Services Select Committee hearings, in addition to Mike Penning’s Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Services Matt Hancock and latterly the back bench debate on medical cannabis, clear arguments have been made in support of a solution.
Emerging from these discussions are a pair of notable issues that have hindered UK clinicians from more widely and readily adopting medical cannabis as a therapeutic option.
A lack of education
Despite a global record of clinical experience in medicinal cannabis, there have not been the balanced learning resources available for clinicians in the UK to confidently educate themselves in this area. Practical matters such as what are treatable conditions, and how to safely and effectively dose and prescribe for these conditions, need addressing.
Questions as to the evidence
To date, there has been a lack of the particular kind of base of evidence that is rigorously applied to clinical practice. Randomised control trials are broadly viewed as the standard required, and while more research is underway to establish this level of evidence, they are costly, relatively slow to perform and do not address an immediate need for the treatment of a number of grave and otherwise hard-to-treat conditions.
The Academy of Medical Cannabis
Predicting these issues, and formed in advance of the rescheduling of medical cannabis, The Academy of Medical Cannabis undertakes not only to provide the necessary platform to better enable clinical education in medical cannabis, but also to define the leading standard in this education.
Authored and contributed to by some of the world’s leading medical cannabis clinicians and academics, The Academy of Medical Cannabis provides a research, evidence and clinical practice-based education.
Leading our educational content is The Academy’s Director of Education, Professor Mike Barnes, a renowned consultant in neurology and rehabilitation medicine with a valued record in helping young patients treat severe illnesses with medical cannabis. Also taking a critical role in informing our courses is Dr Dani Gordon, a double board-certified doctor in integrative medicine with nearly a decade of experience in practicing cannabis-based therapies in Canada and the US.
Our team also includes a number of leading experts in other highly relevant fields, each with outlying training and experience in medical cannabis.
• Psychiatric expertise is provided by consultant psychiatrist Dr Rebecca Moore
• Complex neurological and elderly care expertise is provided by leading specialist Dr Elizabeth Iveson
• General practice and primary care expertise is provided by the vastly experienced Dr Leon Barron GP
• And offering his expertise in chronic pain management is the consulting physician Dr David McDowell
Supported by this deep level of expertise and providing a comprehensive set of learning materials, our courses will equip a global footprint of clinicians with the knowledge and confidence to operate with medicinal cannabis.
From foundations through to advanced information in specific conditions and for specialised therapies, including guidance on how to safely and effectively dose and prescribe, it is a focussed and clinically relevant education explicitly for clinicians.
The Evidence Base
Critically, in recognition of the question surrounding the evidence for medicinal cannabis, The Academy has built the groundbreaking Evidence Base research database, exhaustively cataloging and analysing the history of the most relevant and high quality research in cannabis, and for cannabis-based therapies.
This tool, added to the body of direct clinical experience that supports our learning, creates an illuminating picture in terms of the weight of existing evidence. As we continue to build this database we will move even closer to establishing an indisputable basis of evidence for medicinal cannabis.
In addition to our online learning content, The Academy is now also offering live seminars in order to further improve access to clinical education in medical cannabis. Our first live event is to take place June 27th at the King’s College London Anatomy Theatre, and will be led by Professor Barnes, Dr Gordon and Dr Barron.
While tailored for clinicians, we would welcome policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to attend so as to understand the breadth and quality of The Academy’s teaching. Please register if you wish to attend.
It is critically urgent that the issue of access to medical cannabis be resolved by removing the obstacles detailed here. With patients actively in need of the more effective therapies that medical cannabis can provide, raising awareness as to the current availability of educational resources, and ensuring that clinicians pursue this education, is paramount.