National Health Service
The National Health Service, or NHS, is England’s publicly funded healthcare system. Being the largest single-payer healthcare system in the entire world, the National Health Service is responsible for a broad range of duties within the UK. One such responsibility is testing and evaluating private-market products. The National Health Service has begun testing a cannabis product with the intention of regulating it and medications like it.
The product being tested by the National Health Service is called the Medipen. The UK-based company sells these portable vaporizers with great success. The Medipen is used for consumers to ingest cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis-based medication. CBD is utilized by this pen to alleviate depression, anxiety, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, among other things. The company states that the CBD in their product is free of THC, the ingredient in cannabis that produces a “high.”
Managing director of the company, Jordan Owen, has said,
We’ve recently been working very closely with a team of NHS production and regulatory support pharmacists who’ve been able to meticulously analyse our proprietary formulation for both safety and cannabinoid concentration.
While the National Health Service is currently only confirming the blend’s purity and CBD concentration, many in the UK believe this is an important first step toward advancing the state of medical cannabis in England.
Bright Future for Cannabis Legalization
Owen is excited at the prospect of the National Health Service examining his company’s product, stating that this sets a “…new benchmark in providing a much-needed sense of legitimacy to the… legal cannabis industry.”
And it seems he’s right. The Medipen is the first consumer cannabis product that the NHS has set its sights on. It seems that, at the very least, this is an implicit admission that there is some benefit for cannabis in the medical sphere. Despite the government’s current classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with “no therapeutic or medicinal benefits,” others like Owen are optimistic about what this holds for the future.
The Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust focused on drug-policy reform within the UK, threw in its two cents on the issue. Anna Ermakova, a science officer for the Foundation, views the NHS’s decision as “progress.” She adds,
If you can show that CBD has benefits you can start testing the whole cannabis plant for medical benefits.
Ermakova’s comment makes sense. If the government can prove to itself that the plant has a place in medicine, maybe a reclassification of the drug is on the horizon. Some may view this as overly optimistic in light of a recently failed petition signed by 230 thousand English citizens to legalize the plant. Still, the failed petition was for outright legalization; the National Health Service is looking merely at its medicinal uses. Hopefully, this paves the way for more widespread use of medical cannabis in the UK.