It will be taken daily through inhalers in the trial with 5,000 participants who are suffering from chronic pain.
The plant given through an inhaler will vaporise the drug. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will then assess to see if cannabis should become approved as part of a treatment for millions of people in chronic pain.
Cannabis on the NHS could prevent people self-medicating and resorting to drug dealers or even ordering the drugs over the internet. Cannabis may also be safer than opioids which are the usual treatment for chronic pain sufferers.
Medicinal cannabis has been legalised in the UK since 2018 but it’s not something I have ever been offered. However, ‘whole plant’ treatments have not been approved in the UK, unlike other countries including Germany, Canada, Israel and Australia.
The NHS has said that the evidence that medical cannabis can work with certain types of pain was not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief. Hopefully, after the trial, things might change.
The trial, called Canpain, is going to run for the next three years and is open to patients aged 18-85 who have been diagnosed with non-cancerous chronic pain. It is starting this month with an initial ‘feasibility study’ involving 100 patients to check for safety, with a further 5000 patients then set to be enrolled in the trial through LVL Health chronic pain clinics.
The cannabis would cost £299 a month per patient and is taken in through the inhalers all in one go which takes up to five minutes so it is not something you puff on all day. It gives the effect of inhaling the whole flower, but you are not actually smoking it and you obviously do not have all the carcinogens.
The National Institute for Health and Care Research will oversee the studies to look at the effects of the substance on epilepsy sufferers.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant. Native to Central and South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and for pain for thousands of years.