Ruby Deevoy hosted the Bridging the Gap panel at Cannabis Europa. The panel set out to explore how doctors, patients and producers come together to bridge the gap and ensure ongoing efficacy for medical cannabis. Bringing together the experience of patients, clinicians and investors, the panel included Professor Mike Barnes, Jonathan Nadler, Bek Muslimov and Zach Thompson.
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Professor Mike Barnes used his time on stage to make a direct plea to Priti Patel.
Barnes believes that allowing GP’s to prescribe is one of the most important next steps to improving patient access in the UK. With “28% of 18,000 or so GPs” willing to prescribe cannabis, but currently prohibited from doing so, Barnes hopes this change would put immense pressure on the NHS to start providing prescriptions.
“She could do this. She could change one line in the Misuse of Drugs regulations, 2018 to change from ‘specialist doctors to be prescribe’ to ‘specialist, doctors and general practitioners to prescribe’. That’s all it will take to do. So I put a plea out for Priti to get on and do it.”
Currently only 110 doctors are prescribing in the UK, making it needlessly difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis. Recognising that private clinics were the only way to work around the NHS’s hesitancy initially, Professor Barnes hoped to see cannabis specific clinics become a thing of the past. “If you need a new anti hypertensive drug, you don’t go to a anti hypertensive clinic, you go to a blood pressure clinic” he said. Cannabis remains outside normal medical practice but Barnes believes “cannabis should be part of our armoury”.
Zach Thompson shared his perspective as a patient. Reinforcing Barnes points, Thompson noted the disconnect between overall patient care and medical cannabis. By GPs being able to prescribe, patients get both the care and prescriptions they need from a single doctor who is “able to deliver your whole package of care”. Thompson also spoke on issues of consistency and safety in medicinal cannabis and the social stigma attached “We’re constantly dealing with police who don’t believe that our medicine is legal”.
Continuing the conversation on consistency and safety, Jonathan Nadler agreed that there was “no continuity of supply or of product”. Posing the solution to this, Nadler said “We need to decriminalise. If the NHS won’t change their mind quickly, if we can’t get real regulations we need to provide people with a grow-your-own market.”
Exploring the importance of a patient centric model for investors, Bek Muslimov noted that there is a “direct link between how you care for patients and your retention rate” and with the importance of repeat customers, it isn’t just good ethical practice but good business practice too.
When asked, what he as an investor looks for when investing in cannabis businesses, Musilmov said
“When we look at companies, obviously for us as early stage investors, it’s all about people. We look at the mindset of founders. We look at their vision. Is it well articulated? Is it long term? And whether patient interests are priority for them, because that’s a fundamental of the viability of the business model. So patient in should come first”
You can catch up with both days of content from the mainstage on YouTube.