Dr. Geoffrey Guy doesn’t smoke pot, but he sure knows how to grow and process it.
Guy’s GW Pharmeceuticals. and English-based phytochemical cannabis medicines research company, has grown tens of thousands of specially-bred pot plants at secret greenhouses in Southern England in the last two years. (See CC#37, Med-Pot Aerosol)
The doctor and his team of researchers extract a range of cannabinoids and other ingredients from the plants, then recombine them into therapeutic sub-lingual sprays and inhaled aerosols that are being tested for medical usefulness in a variety of conditions, including nerve damage, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer pain, and spinal cord injury.
GW is also developing a lock-tight “medical cannabis delivery device” that will deliver controlled doses of cannabinoids in a non-smoked form. Guy says that the device will be equipped with safeguards that prevent patients from using cannabinoids recreationally or in ways that will negatively affect health.
Guy’s medicines have now been referred to England’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is an important step in the process that GW hopes will lead to cannabis medicines being part of the pharmacopeia accepted by England’s National Health Service. Acceptance by the British health service in a unified Europe is thought to ensure acceptance of cannabis medicines by the entire European Union. The United States has so far not given final approval to GW’s requests for similar clinical trials and medical approval processes, and is lagging far behind in providing its citizens with the safe and effective relief that is uniquely provided by naturally-derived medical cannabinoids.
“This is a significant step along the road towards the nationwide provision of cannabis-based prescription medicines for NHS patients,” Dr. Guy commented, adding that government officials have already promised that if cannabis drugs that pass professional muster the government will amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to allow the prescribing of cannabis-based medicines.
GW expects to bring its first prescription medicines to market in early 2004. This will allow sufferers of MS, Spinal Cord Injury and other neurological disorders to obtain the therapeutic benefits of cannabis by means of a standardised, high quality medicinal product, without the health dangers associated with smoking. Patients using GW medicines should also able to separate the thresholds for symptom relief and intoxication, so enabling them to experience medical benefit without experiencing a high, Guy explains.
Although some advocates of total legalization of marijuana fear that GW’s products may give governments a means to defuse the argument that medpot users should have the right to grow their own medicine, Guy has previously told Cannabis Culture that the development of specific cannabis medicines that provide benefits without intoxication will not necessarily influence the debate over marijuana’s illegality.