Prof David Nutt to lead medical cannabis trial involving 20,000 UK patients

Professor David Nutt is to lead a two-year trial involving up to 20,000 UK patients in a bid to create Europe’s largest body of evidence on the plant’s medicinal qualities.

Nutt’s independent scientific body Drug Science is to launch ProjectTwenty21 on Thursday in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which will see 20,000 patients supplied with subsidised cannabis products by the end of 2021. He hopes the results of the trial will help convince policymakers that the drug should be made as widely available, and affordable, as other approved prescription medications.

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Only a handful of cannabis prescriptions have been made on the NHS since cannabis medicines were rescheduled a year ago, with most specialists saying there is not enough evidence for them to do so. 

Project Twenty21 will study cannabis’ effects on patients who have either chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder or who have had a history of substance misuse.

“Medical cannabis is still out of reach for far too many,” said Nutt. “Patients are left untreated, in significant debt from the cost of private prescriptions, or criminalised as they are forced to turn to the black market. They don’t deserve any of this, and the situation with prescribing desperately needs to change.”

In 2013 Nutt told BBC Worldwide that UK Cannabis Social Clubs was “a rational approach to an irrational law”, saying that “cannabis should never have been made illegal in the first place”.

“The RCP hopes this project will address the paucity of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicinal products in all health settings, including mental health,” said Professor Wendy Burn, the RCP president. “We hope that this project, along with other research such as more much-needed randomised control trials, will continue to build the evidence on CBMPs.”

As many as 28 million people in the UK will at some stage suffer from chronic pain.

“Data from several countries reveal that medical cannabis has benefited several thousands of patients,” said Dr Arun Bhaskar, president of the British Pain Society. “There are more than eight million people with disabling chronic pain in the UK and medical cannabis is still out of reach for them. Trials like Project Twenty21 could provide evidence for safely and effectively prescribing these medicines that has the potential to provide pain relief and other life-changing benefits for some of these patients.”

Further information about ProjectTwenty21 will be available from Thursday.

Comments (22)

      1. I have 2 fractures in my spine using oral morphine . Been very stressed due to limitations I would be more than happy to be part of this if you should need me .
    1. If you need a person that is ultra sensitive to the effects of cannabis...that's me. One puff and I'm klopped. Can i participate in the trial if i live in South Africa?
  1. would love to be part of this trial, i have Fibromyalgia , depression and anxiety im actually stumbled across this whilest looking for information for my college paper.
  2. I am very interested participating in this trial . I have rrMS and have taken a holistic approach to my MS apart from diazapam for my spazams but have many other symptoms . Thankyou
  3. The best news ever glad he didn’t just crawl off. He has obviously been planning this for some times amd what a way to embarrass the Government that sacked him for his truth about certain recreational drugs being safer than alcohol! THEY wanted trials now they will get them and patients get the cannabis they need, 20,000 of them? yes big pharma maybe involved but the money has to come from somewhere. We now need more education for the public to understand the ECS and how cannabinoids can help a deficient one to allow the body to heal itself without the dangers of Big Pharma harmful drugs . We may be getting there and I am so excited ??
    1. I have really bad anxiety and depression along with BPD aka EUPD I'm an activist for cannabis to become legal because I find it helps me think logically through my emotions when I'm having an episode and calms the anxiety and paranoia down. More people need to see the wonders of cannabis and how it can help than being stubborn and believing all the stigma behind it.

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