CADFY’s Statement to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs General Session - Vienna 2020
Regarding The World Health Organization’s recommendation 5.5
Recommendation 5.5: A footnote should be added to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to read: “Preparations containing predominantly Cannabidiol (CBD) and not more than 0.2% of delta-9-THC are not under international control.
Thank you for giving me this time to speak before this distinguished body.
It is important to understand that CADFY has grave concerns regarding the World Health Organizations Recommendation 5.5
“In Recommendation 5.5, The Word Health Organization (WHO) and its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) have recommended that “preparations” containing predominantly CBD and not more than 0.2% THC be excluded from international control. The use of the term “preparation” will cause significant confusion, since, under the Single Convention, that term can apply to finished products. If WHO/ECDD had intended for their recommendation to apply only to drug substances or Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, not to finished products, they had other terminology choices (such as the term “drug”) that would have caused less confusion, or they could have clearly explained their intention in the surrounding text. On the other hand, if WHO/ECDD did intend for their recommendation to apply to finished products, then the scientific justification on which they based the recommendation is mistaken. They relied almost exclusively on the abuse potential data from the Epidiolex studies (Epidiolex is the only purified CBD product to be approved as a prescription medication in the US and the EU.) However, in Epidiolex the finished product, the THC content is only 0.01% . By contrast, in the crystalline CBD drug substance or Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient of Epidiolex (before it is dissolved in sesame oil), the THC content is not more than 0.1% THC. So WHO/ECDD are potentially recommending the de-scheduling of products having 20 times more THC than Epidiolex. As you will see in the presentations, this can be a lot of THC. In addition, in light of the poor quality control of the CBD products currently being marketed, there is no reliable way to ensure that products purporting to be pure CBD actually do not contain concerning levels of THC. For these reasons, CADFY believes that Recommendation 5.5 should not be adopted in its current form. “
Community Alliances for Drug Free Youth
Tobacco cash behind cannabis research in Oxford
BMJ 2020; 368 (Published 18 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1044
A research collaboration that includes Oxford University is taking funding from the tobacco industry for research into the medicinal properties of cannabis. Jonathan Gornall continues his investigation into the links between big business and the push to widen cannabis access for patients.
The BMJ has uncovered links between companies, campaign groups and individuals lobbying for wider patient access to cannabis for medical use and a parallel campaign to create a lucrative recreational market for the drug in the UK. The first article focused on the links between commercial organisations that are seeking new markets for recreational cannabis and patient groups and researchers.1 Here, we look at the involvement of the tobacco industry in funding research into medicinal cannabis, and the complex web of connections linked to both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis.
Gavin Sathianathan is typical of the new breed of cannabis entrepreneur. The 41 year old is founder and main shareholder of Alta Flora, a private limited London based company, incorporated in May 2018, specialising in “wellness products from natural sources.”2 He is also a trustee of the United Patients Alliance (UPA), a patient led medical cannabis support group founded in 2014 to “safeguard the patients’ voice in advancing legal access to cannabis therapeutics.”3 The alliance is also supporting Project Twenty21, which aims to recruit and prescribe cannabis to 20 000 patients to create “the largest body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis … to demonstrate to policymakers that medical cannabis should be as widely available, and affordable, as other approved medicines.”4
Another of Sathianathan’s recent roles was as chief executive of Forma Holdings, a cannabis investment fund launched in 2016 with offices in London and Los Angeles. Together with Neil Mahapatra, a contact from his student days at Harvard who is a managing partner at London based private equity and venture capital firm Kingsley Capital Partners, Sathianathan is also a co-founder and director of Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies.
In 2017 Kingsley announced that it was founding Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies and, in collaboration with Oxford University, investing up to £10m (€11m; $13m) in a “ground-breaking cannabinoid biomedicine research programme ... to investigate the role of cannabinoids in biology and medicine” and develop “safe and effective prescription medicines to treat serious and life-threatening human diseases and conditions,” including cancer, pain, neurological conditions, and autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases.5
But in June 2018 Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies announced it had attracted total additional funding of about $10m from two potentially controversial sources with investment interests that are not limited to the medicinal cannabis market.
One was Casa Verde Capital, a US venture capital firm co-founded in 2015 by Snoop Dogg, the US rap artist and high profile exponent of recreational cannabis use. 6 Casa Verde is focused exclusively on cannabis which, it believes, “will be among the most compelling investment themes of our generation.”7
The identity of the other investor—tobacco company Imperial Brands (formerly Imperial Tobacco)—will ring alarm bells in the public health community. In a press release in July 2018 announcing it was taking an equity stake in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, Imperial’s chief development officer, Matthew Phillips, said cannabinoid products had “significant potential and our investment enables Imperial to support OCT’s important research while building a deeper understanding of the medical cannabis market.”
Asked by The BMJ whether it had any plans to invest in any future recreational cannabis market in the UK, a spokesperson for Imperial dismissed this as “a hypothetical question.” He added: “Recreational cannabis is not legal in the UK and we have no plans. Any potential for changes to its legal status is a matter for the government, and we don’t have a view on this.”
A spokesperson for Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies told The BMJ that the company “would not look to enter the recreational market” should restrictions in the UK be eased. But he added: “It is worth noting that while neither [co-founder] Neil [Mahapatra] nor OCT advocate in support of recreational cannabis ... Kingsley Capital Partners has founded other businesses that are active in the cannabinoid market.”
However, in an interview in the Times newspaper in 2018 Mahapatra dismissed criticism of a healthcare company accepting money from a tobacco firm. “From my perspective,” he was quoted as saying, “any money that’s not going into developing cigarettes and is going into good things, such as research that could help people, is great.” The medical arguments for cannabis, he added, were “overwhelming or, at least, have the potential to be overwhelming.” He added he was “50/50” on whether cannabis should be legalised for recreational use.8
Marta Di Forti, a psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, who last year published research on the relation between cannabis use and psychotic disorder,9 called for more independent funding for cannabis research.
“It is always very dangerous to forget history and we are now seeing the sort of connections that we have seen happening before,” she said—and the involvement of tobacco company Imperial was “dreadful and shocking.”
“We are lacking in funding for cannabis research from independent organisations such as the Wellcome Trust or the Medical Research Council. The result will be that more and more you are going to see even prestigious and reputable academic institutions accepting money from some of these companies.”
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