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Medical Cannabis Awareness Week calls for real-world evidence

Medical Cannabis Awareness Week calls for real-world evidence

Medical Cannabis Awareness Week is taking place during the first week of November 2021 and brings together patients, doctors, sector organisations, supporters, and advocates to raise awareness of the plea for fair access to medical cannabis.

On 1 November 2018, Medical Cannabis was made available on prescription in the UK. Three years on, only 3 prescriptions have been issued by the NHS. Out of desperation, patients are funding private prescriptions and up to 1.4 million patients are forced to turn to illegal methods. 

Patients unable to afford and access treatment are suffering due to the fear, stigma and financial barriers preventing them accessing this safe, and potentially life-changing, treatment. 

This is not right.

Medical Cannabis Awareness Week 2021 aims to highlight the real need for real-world evidence in evolving access to this new treatment, calling for fair access to medical cannabis treatment on the NHS.

Patients from across the UK will be sharing their stories about the life-changing impact of medical cannabis and their difficulties in accessing a prescription and there are so many ways supporters can get involved.

The first Medical Cannabis Awareness Week to take place last year saw over 50 speakers and 1500 live attendees, with 60,000 people reached. 

“Having witnessed the transformation of quality of life for many patients like myself, it is hard to accept that the only access many have to medical cannabis treatment is through the private sector. Why is there enough evidence for a private pain consultant or psychiatrist to prescribe unlicensed cannabis medicines, yet the same treatment is not afforded to patients via the NHS, which was created to provide universal, comprehensive and free health care?

“With only three NHS prescriptions having been issued three years on from Sajid Javid's promise to make medical cannabis treatment accessible, my plea for Medical Cannabis Awareness Week 2021 is that the real need for real world evidence is explored and accepted in evolving access to this new treatment.”
“Life before and after cannabis medicine really is like night and day, before constant pain left me feeling hopeless and depressed, unable to function, trying all different medications, dealing with awful side effects. After, well, I feel like me again, I can enjoy a meal, go for a walk, sleep and manage my pain better while having a clear head.

“While all this is amazing the financial cost bring a whole new anxiety around how I afford my medicine, every month I struggle to pay for it, I don’t want to go back to my life before, not now I know I don’t have to suffer so much, there is a relief available, my plea is that this medication becomes available through the NHS so no patient has to endure the pressure of trying to fund a private prescription.”
“Since becoming a medical cannabis patient, I have begun to feel like my life has a purpose again and is of value. Medical cannabis has begun to mitigate the highly complex and troublesome symptoms presented from my autism and ADHD, allowing me to return to what could be a conventional life.

“My PLEA for Medical Cannabis Awareness Week is for the continued access of Medical Cannabis for patients like me here in the UK. I hope to one day finally be able to be prescribed and access my medication over the NHS, rather than the current private system, which is only seeing patients like me struggle further with their conditions and finances to be able to live the life that we all deserve.”

PLEA Community hosts Medical Cannabis Awareness Week during the first week of November each year.

How people can get involved: 

  • There are events for patients, doctors, supporters and anyone else with an interest in medical cannabis. 
  • Join patients, advocates and organisations to share your PLEA on social media using the hashtag #MCAW2021
  • Raise awareness, address the stigma, call for change. You can record a video making your plea, write it down, or record an audio clip. 
  • Ask questions, and connect with medical cannabis supporters, patients, and allies via the  #MCAW2021 hashtag on social media. 
  • During #MCAW2021, we’re asking you to help us spread the word about fair access to medical cannabis treatment. Use the template example to create your own letter and email or post it to your MP.


#MCAW2021 Events 

Day 1: Patient Perspectives

Monday 1 November, 6pm – 7.30pm
A patient and parent panel share both the successes and continued barriers in accessing medical cannabis in the UK.

Day 2: Condition Conversations

Tuesday 2 November, 6pm – 7.30pm
A conversation exploring the potential of medical cannabis treatment for a range of physical and mental health conditions.

Day 3: Research Roundtable

Wednesday 3 November, 6pm-7.30pm
A look at the latest research, highlighting the real need for real-world evidence in evolving medical cannabis access. 

Day 4: Industry Insights 

Thursday 4 November, 6pm – 7.30pm
An insight into current industry ongoings, focusing on the need to centre and amplify patients in the medical cannabis sector.

Day 5: Access Analysis

Friday 5 November, 6pm-7.30pm
A step-by-step guide to support patients in making an informed decision in accessing medical cannabis treatment.

Day 6: Diversity Discussions

Saturday 6 November, 6pm-7.30pm
An open dialogue addressing cultural challenges and the urgent need to widen diversity in the medical cannabis sector. 

Day 7: Summary Session

Sunday 7 November, 6pm-7.30pm
A look into the findings from across Medical Cannabis Awareness Week 2021, mapping out calls to action and next steps

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