Oxford University launches £10 million medical marijuana research program

The project could make the UK the leading frontier in medical marijuana research

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Oxford University are set to partner with Kingsley Capital Partners to research marijuana-based medicine.

Cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in marijuana, alter neurotransmitter release in the brain, and therefore can be used to treat pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Eight scientists will be investigating the effects of medical marijuana, aided by the funding from Kingsley Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm.

Neil Mahapatra, Managing Partner of Kingsley, said: “Medical cannabis and cannabinoid medicine is already helping patients with some of the most distressing conditions across the world.

“However, research into the specific pathways and mechanisms that create this benefit is limited and long overdue.” He claims that the partnership between Kingsley and the University will ensure that the UK has a leadership role in the fast-growing field of medicinal marijuana research.

Ahmed Ahmed, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology at Oxford, registered his support of the research. He commented: “Cannabinoid research has started to produce exciting biological discoveries and this programme is a timely opportunity to increase our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease. This field holds great promise for developing novel therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients.”

The program has received notable support from actor Sir Patrick Stewart. The X-Men star has used medicinal marijuana to treat his arthritis, which he claims has helped him sleep at night again and restored mobility in his hands.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “This is an important step forward for Britain in a field of research that has for too long been held back by prejudice, fear and ignorance.

“I enthusiastically support the Oxford University Cannabis Research Plan.”

Currently, the only licensed cannabis-based product in this country is Sativex, a prescription-only drug for patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. NICE, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the NHS’s primary rationing body, strongly advises against the use of Sativex, claiming that it is not a cost-effective treatment.

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Whilst the Conservatives and Labour do not officially support legalising marijuana for medication, both the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have called for it. The Liberal Democrats announced only four days ago that they support a regulated cannabis market in the UK.

The Oxford University Liberal Democrats told Cherwell: “We are pleased to see the university taking this positive step towards better treatment for certain conditions in the future. The UK is behind other countries in this area, and the Lib Dems have consistently supported a compassionate and progressive stance of legalisation of prescribed cannabis and decriminalisation of possession.”

This is a breaking story, and will be updated with comment as we receive it.