Humankind and cannabis share a long history
Archaeologists have documented humans use of cannabis as far back as 3500BC and throughout history have identified the therapeutic potential of this plant. Cannabis has been cultivated by humans over the years to manage the symptoms of many conditions.
Cannabis was a commonly prescribed medicine in the UK during the 19th and 20th century. It was prescribed as a treatment for conditions such as melancholia, migraines, sleep aid, analgesic and anti-convulsant. It was only the law changes of 1971, when the Misuse of Drugs Act came into force, that cannabis became illegal. This elimination from the medical pharmacopoeia was contested by doctors at the time.
Despite its illegal status, cannabis could still be researched in certain parts of the world such as Israel. In 1992, at a Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Dr. Lumir Hanus along with American researcher Dr. William Devane working in Raphael Mechoulam’s Laboratory, discovered the endocannabinoid system.
Since this discovery, cannabinoid researchers have identified endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, the internal organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. These receptors act as a lock and key with the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, unlocking signalling activity or blocking receptor function. The presence of these receptors in the central nervous system in particular, mean that cannabis medicines have been proven to be extremely effective in the treatment of pain.
Cannabis Medicine in the UK
Due to the gradual relaxation of regulations over the last two decades, the proper medical use of cannabinoids is becoming available in many countries around the world.
In November 2018 cannabis-based medicinal products in the UK were reclassified from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 Controlled Substances. That small but significant change had an immediate impact on the potential for treating patients medically with Cannabis based medicines.
In that very same month our partner organisation, Grow Pharma, supplied one of the very first cannabis medicine prescriptions in the UK. This was a high-profile case with positive results. With the help of the Home Office, MHRA regulatory bodies and the UK Department of Health, IPS were able to deliver what proved to be a life changing medicine to the family in question within two days.
It is estimated that in the UK today 1.4 million people use cannabis illicitly for medicinal purposes. Integro and our partners believe that a significant proportion of that population, with unmet medical needs, will be able to access the benefits of clinically prescribed and safely manufactured cannabis medicine legally and without stigma.