Nowhere have lawmakers been more hesitant to advance medical cannabis legislation than the United Kingdom. Politicians and cabinet ministers have met the public’s demand for a change with a stony silence, and now CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform has decided that more action is needed. The group has teamed up with researchers at LED grow lighting manufacturer GroGlo to advance their argument and make cannabis oil available to all. Certain CBD products are permitted for sale in the UK, but these must be imported from either continental Europe or the United States.
The desire to grow at home
CLEAR and GroGlo wants Britain to be able to grow its own plants and produce its own cannabis oil. GroGlo already has several suitable glasshouses in south east England that could cater for some of the demand. They are making the case for growing Finola, a strain of industrial hemp that – with some manipulation – could contain up to 40 percent CBD.
This would be a significant improvement on what’s currently available in the UK, and could greatly expand a market that was valued at $85 million in 2015 – a figure that’s already destined to skyrocket.
Both York University and Nottingham University have conducted a wealth of cannabis research, and are well-equipped to extract oil from hemp plant using the revered supercritical CO2 extraction method. The teams at these universities intend to use high-pressure liquid chromatography to certify the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of each plant and identify whether the cannabis oil contains any toxins or metals. These results will then be used to adjust growing processes to improve the yield of the next generation of Finola plants.
A potential timeframe
For now, the CLEAR-GroGlo partnership are fully concentrated on advancing the profile of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oils and ensuring that the public has full access to them. Following that, they then hope to end the stigma on psychoactive THC, by highlighting the medicinal benefits of oils with increased levels of the cannabinoid.
There’s some precedent for a medical cannabis agenda succeeding in the UK, with GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company, developing the cannabis-like drug Sativex, which is available on prescription in Britain and other countries.
GroGlo’s plant science director Professor Mick Fuller is set to lead the partnership’s research and development team. He hopes that they can ensure “high quality UK-produced cannabis products” are made available on the British market within “two to three years.”
Fuller added that GroGlo lighting products are used all over the world to grow all kinds of crops, but that 60 percent of overseas purchases are made so legitimate medical marijuana users can cultivate their own plants.
While it’s vital to have a good strain, or oil that’s extracted from a quality strain, finding the best method of administering it is also crucial to ensuring a successful medical experience. For some conditions, super-fast absorption of cannabinoids is key; for others, a slower, measured release makes for lengthier and more efficient medicating. Smoking is the age-old way of consuming cannabis, and this form of delivery is renowned for quick absorption – health-conscious inhalers may wish to vaporize their cannabis flower or CBD e-juice instead.
Moreover, vaping doesn’t burn the plant matter like smoking does, so is a more efficient way of consuming cannabinoids. The burning degrades a strain’s cannabinoid and terpene profile, limiting the potential of the “entourage effect,” a synergistic reaction that occurs between the compounds in cannabis to boost its overall effects.
CLEAR has criticized Sativex, the approved multiple sclerosis medication by GW Pharmaceuticals, for giving users unnecessary side effects, primarily oral irritation. Sativex is a mouth spray, and while users do their best to absorb the product sublingually, some of it is inevitably taken in orally. The fast activation of the former combined with the slower latter method leads to inconsistent results.
CLEAR is a firm advocate of vaporizing cannabis, arguing that it provides a better overall experience. It’s hard to disagree. Vaping offers a full, undamaged cannabinoid profile, is a fast-absorption method and is fairly pleasant to medicate with, as users get to enjoy the pronounced and subtle flavors of a strain. CLEAR aims to find a suitable manufacturer that can develop medical-grade vape pens that conform to requirements.
The British people are finding out just how wide-ranging the therapeutic benefits of cannabis are, and the country is crying out for a slew of medicinal marijuana products to be made legal. The first steps are to receive serious legislative reform in the UK Parliament, which would require passing a bill through both the House of Commons and House of Lords. Perhaps other countries, such as the United States and Canada, can be used as examples for where medical cannabis has been a net positive to the public health.
Whether the CLEAR-GroGlo effort ultimately achieves real success or not, only time will tell – but it’s a step in the right direction to even see a mobilized medical marijuana movement across the pond.
Do you think that the United Kingdom should legalize cannabis, or at least certain types of products? Let us know in the comments.