The UK Centre for Medical Cannabis has persuaded several senior healthcare executives to present keynote lectures at an upcoming conference on cannabinoid research.

It will be the first time that representatives of the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Department of Health and the healthcare products watchdog have attended an event hosted by pro-cannabis lobbyists. Individuals giving keynote speeches will be some of the most senior policymakers in the UK.

The cannabinoid research conference has been created in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research. It takes place in London from April 16-17.

Keynote speakers will be: Dr. Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer, NHS England; Dr. Paul Chrisp, director at NICE; Professor Roger Pertwee, British Pharmacological Society; and Sir John Tooke, executive chairman of Academic Health Solutions.

NICE is responsible for approving cannabis-based medicines for patients in the UK, so it is hugely influential in governing patient access.

It dealt a major blow to campaigners in August 2019 by ruling that cannabis should not be used to treat multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. It then sparked celebrations by approving the UK’s first two cannabis-based medicines in November: Epidyolex for the treatment of two forms of epilepsy and Sativex for multiple sclerosis patients.

It wields considerable power in this space, so cannabis advocates will be keen to network with Dr. Chrisp, along with the chief pharmaceutical officer at the NHS and several other senior healthcare decision makers.

The goal of the event is to foster dialogue around the topic of cannabis-based medicinal products that can be used to treat pain, epilepsy, cancer, mental health, and neurodegeneration. Cannabis researchers from around the world will jet in to be part of the conversation, which should hopefully help Britain’s medical cannabis sector open up.

NICE has previously stressed that it will not approve more cannabis-based medicines due to the lack of clinical trial evidence on the efficacy, side effects, and cost benefits when treating various conditions. The Centre for Medical Cannabis hopes the conference will facilitate the necessary research by aligning the industry’s efforts with the demands laid down by NICE.

Paul Finch, an online entrepreneur, founded the Centre for Medical Cannabis as he is passionate about people benefiting from affordable medical cannabis. He is not an investor in the cannabis sector.

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