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Thousands of people are set to take part in the UK's first trial of pure cannabis.
Medical cannabis has been available to Brits since November 2018, when it was legalised after two epileptic children benefitted from the treatment.
However, while available on the NHS, it can only be prescribed through a specialist doctor and less than 100 prescriptions are issued each month. The process has been vastly criticised, even sparking the End Our Pain campaign.
Now, medical regulators have approved a groundbreaking cannabis trial in the UK, named Canpain, with some 5,000 adults set to take vaporised cannabis daily for at least a year through inhalers, reports The Times.
Participants will receive a dose of 'whole flower' unprocessed marijuana. The results will then be compared against a control group of 5,000 adults of similar age, sex and health on more orthodox pain medication.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will use the results to weigh up whether medical cannabis will be approved even further for NHS treatment, as opposed to the current limited basis.
In addition to marijuana being legalised across the US, its use in medicine has been backed by many researchers, who believe it's a far safer alternative to illegal opioids and its approval would save people from spending thousands on drug dealers.
Only three cannabis-based medicines have been approved for NHS prescriptions so far, including Epidyolex, which contains CBD. 'Whole plant' treatments have yet to be given the green light.
According to the NHS, there's some evidence medical cannabis can help certain types of pain, though this evidence 'is not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief'.
However, Tony Samios of LVL Health believes Brits could see changes 'within the next few years'.
He said: "We’re hoping we will provide the data that Nice and the NHS require to get it prescribed. Absolutely millions could benefit.
"Doctors are very limited in what they can prescribe [for chronic pain]. The only course of treatment they really have is opioids unfortunately.
"So patients tend to seek other forms of pain management and alternative treatments that could be anything from acupuncture to physiotherapy.
“There is a great desire for patients who want cannabis prescribed on the NHS... something like one and a half million patients in the UK are buying illicit cannabis off the streets, self-medicating with a poor quality product and having to deal with drug dealers."
The trial is open to all UK adults aged 18 to 85 who've been diagnosed with non-cancer chronic pain.
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