These groups are flanked by a host of societies and think-tanks that seek to bolster the evidence-based research into the drug. Industry associations such as the Primary Care Cannabis Network look to support GPs who are interested in learning more about the applications of medicinal marijuana.
Meanwhile, Volteface – one of the most widely known advocacy groups that publishes research in favour of legalisation in the UK – is funded directly by a large Canadian company that produces and sells marijuana products.
Even among politicians, groups have emerged to study the drug and its potential impact on public health and tax revenues.
The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, founded by Tory MP Crispin Blunt, calls for “UK drug policy to truly protect young people, deliver better health and social outcomes for families and communities, and reduce drug-related harms”. But despite this swelling number of action and research groups, many share the same problem.
For those pushing for wider adoption of medicinal marijuana, they are governed by strict rules on the promotion of clinical drugs. “Because we are a clinically prescribed medication, we can’t promote that in any form, so our hands are tied,” says the UK head of government relations at a major Canadian cannabis company.
Unlike in the US, adverts hawking prescription drugs in Britain are illegal because they are seen to influence clinicians and patients. And for the groups holding out for the legalisation of recreational marijuana, they must be even more careful in how they interact with the Government.