Oxford University is about to embark on a £10 million medical cannabis research program with researchers looking into the medical benefits of marijuana to treat pain, disease caused by inflammation, and cancer.

The Telegraph reports on the initiative which follows MPs’ calls for a law to allow medical cannabis. Polls suggest that 58% of the voting population would support a medical cannabis law.

Scientific studies

In the last decade, scientific studies have shown that medical cannabis is useful in treating epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and nerve pain.

The Cannabis Research Plan is a collaboration between Oxford University and Kingsley Capital Partners, who invested £10 million to establish a global center of excellence for research into cannabinoids.

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Oxford Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Prof Ahmed Ahmed, says that cannabis research could lead to new treatments. He says the field holds huge potential for the development of novel therapies in cancer treatment.

Endorsed by celebrity

Celebrity Sir Patrick Stewart of X-Men and Star Trek fame backed the study with great enthusiasm, saying it is time the prejudice, fear and ignorance around medical marijuana gets cleared up. He has been using an ointment and chewy bars to help him sleep. He uses a cannabinoid spray on his hands to relieve his osteoarthritis. The treatment has restored his mobility; he can even make a fist.

Stewart has osteoarthritis in both his hands and joined the medical marijuana program in Los Angeles two years ago. His doctor prescribed marijuana and gave him a note to legally purchase it from a registered outlet.

Laws can be lenient

Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK, and getting caught with it could lead to five years’ incarceration. Police apply the law as they see fit, being more tolerant in some areas than others. For instance, in some cases, they will only confiscate marijuana from users and give them a warning.

Neither Labour nor Conservative officials support the legalization of cannabis for medical use. The Liberal Democrats and Green Party, on the other hand, have been calling for legalizing medical use for some time.

Cannabis-based prescription medicine, such as Sativex for multiple sclerosis patients to ease spasm and pain is perfectly legal. However, the NHS doesn’t approve its use as it is considered to be expensive.

What the medical cannabis research program will do

The Oxford University medical cannabis research program puts cannabinoids in the center of the scientific stage. It is encouraging that top academics will tackle medical cannabis research. This alone is evidence that the scientific community is starting to take medical cannabis seriously.

The Cannabis Research Plan holds the potential to bring all current knowledge together through scientific collaboration. Potentially, scientists will reach consensus on how to view medical cannabis while pinpointing areas for further medical cannabis research.

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