The Academy of Medical Cannabis

academy of medical cannabis
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Professor Mike Barnes, Director of Education at The Academy of Medical Cannabis shares his thoughts on the rescheduling of cannabis to a Schedule II substance in November of 2018 and access to medical cannabis prescriptions

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 farther 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 severe 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 backbench 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. While more research is underway to establish this level of evidence, RCTs are costly, relatively slow to perform and are essentially not the right model for the complex family of cannabis medicines. Critically, this approach does 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 research, evidence and clinical practice-based education.

As The Academy’s Director of Education, I contribute my experience as a consultant in neurology and rehabilitation medicine, including that of 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 practising cannabis-based therapies in Canada and the U.S.

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 are 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 on 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 ground-breaking Evidence Base research database, exhaustively cataloguing and analysing the history of the most relevant and high-quality research on 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.

Live seminars

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 myself, 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.


Professor Mike Barnes

Director of Education

The Academy of Medical Cannabis

Tel: +44 (0)20 3928 2811


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