Bristol Cannabis Club held its first meeting in the garden of a public house in St Pauls, at the end of May 2014. Since that time the club has developed and evolved and evolved again to suit the times and circumstances. What we have never stopped doing is pushing for a better system and change to the UK regulations.
In the time since 2014 we have held multiple picnics, public meets and protests. We have organised educational events attended by popular media figures, ex chiefs of police and many more. We have held monthly events for our members when venues have been available, and in late 2018 we secured the lease on an industrial unit, which we named Brunel Steam Room and for over 2 years this building became our beloved HQ. A sanctuary and safe space for our members. In late 2019 the club took its first financial hit, and then the fateful day in January 2020 when the club was burgled and items to the value of at least £8k were taken. We had to fund raise like mad to be able to safely open our doors once again, only to have to close shortly afterwards due to the CV19 restrictions. During the lockdown we used every means available to us to raise funds to keep the rent paid and the possibility of reopening HQ alive. We did manage to reopen but ever changing restrictions and often lack of volunteers, meant that ultimately the club admins decided that the club HQ should close, and we handed in our 3 months notice, which we have always budgeted for.
Lockdown kicked in again to show us that handing in our notice had been the right choice at that time, so we could at least have something left in the pot to find another HQ, once things have settled down.
We now do things differently, in this ever changing world. If club membership is something that interests you, you will need to find an existing paid up member to refer you.
If you are looking for medical cannabis there are lots of private cannabis clinics available in the UK, and you should try these as an option. Having said that our door is always open to anyone who needs our support and advice.
A cannabis based medicine, made from part of the cannabis plant, combined with alcohol, propylene glycol and peppermint flavour. It was mostly available privately and not prescribed on the NHS until 2014. Even then there have been very few prescriptions made and many have now been taken back and replaced with Epidolux, a CBD and THCV preparation, presented in a similar way to Sativex.
The lack of prescriptions is mostly down to the monopoly, which leads to overinflated costs of Sativex, which is around £600 for a prescription, and can be made with black market products for just £60.
In 2018, under pressure from patients and their carers, who found that CBD alone was not enough for their conditions, Sativex unsuitable due to how its prepared and how it’s taken, MPs passed changes to the misuse of drugs act to reschedule cannabis from schedule 1 (of no medical use) to schedule 2. This allowed for unlicensed cannabis based products for medical use, which includes flowers, oral oils and vape oils, to be prescribed. It also allowed medical research on Cannabis, which had been banned since 1961 when much of the previous research was destroyed.
Sadly there have still been relatively few if any prescriptions granted on the NHS. This is mostly due to; the lack of medical research, proving efficiency vs cost, cost being again inflated due to greed, and research being lacking as the government has failed to invest in it since medical cannabis was permitted by the 2018 law changes.
Instead, people are forced to obtain the medicine that works for them privately, from specialist doctors often working for private clinics.
To do so they must have tried at least two previous medications for their condition. These medications can often be very dangerous, especially when you have to take them everyday for life, as many who need access to medical cannabis do. They can quickly deteriorate your health while still not effectively managing your condition, this is untenable especially with cannabis being a more suitable and safe solution.
Why Is Bristol Cannabis Club having to get involved?
Bristol Cannabis Club feels there should be regulated access for all adults to Cannabis and to grow their own, but until then we support the current medical cannabis offering with an aim to push it to be what it needs to be for the people who need it. Increasing quality and efficiency whilst decreasing price to bring it closer to home grown cannabis levels.
We believe that increasing the number of cannabis prescriptions in the UK questions the legality of Cannabis overall when so many use cannabis for medical reasons and have only positive outcomes from their consumption.
We also feel it’s unfair that many of those who need it the most are currently unable to obtain it. This is due to many of them being on benefits because of their health and the costs of a private prescription, particularly the initial consultation fee to see the specialist and obtain your first prescription, is costly.
Obtaining a medical cannabis prescription can allow people to legally work whilst managing their conditions, drive a vehicle and avoid issues from the stigma of cannabis from social services, housing providers etc.
To help people with the first few hurdles so they have access to legal, clean and affordable (~£5 a gram) cannabis, giving them time to save for their next consultation, we are sponsoring 3 peoples first consultation and a starter size pot of the clinics own brand flower, from a clinic of our choice, for a period of 3 months.
We hope to continue to sponsor prescriptions in this way and will be fundraising to meet this aim. To nominate someone for sponsorship including yourself email firstname.lastname@example.org and include a brief description of why you feel the nominated person deserves the sponsorship.
Thank you for entering into our Legal Cannabis Prescription Draw!
We know it’s a shocking state of affairs when our own government won’t even provide the medical healthcare that we are entitled to – we also know how difficult it is to engage them in sensible discussion on how to alleviate those problems!
That’s why we’ve decided to put some of our own funding into providing this very necessary service – we hope to embarrass the government and gain media traction so that we can force a system into place which does not discriminate against wealth when it comes to appropriate healthcare.
We don’t have many terms and conditions for this prize draw – we’re not asking for any money in exchange for a ticket because we don’t want to isolate those who live pound to pound in this terrifying changing economic world. However, we must have some. And they follow below:
[BCC refers to Bristol Cannabis Club, and the admin staff referred to are: __________; participants/winners refer to those who apply for inclusion into the draw, or those who win said draw. “Prize” refers to one initial consultation fee, and up to 10g of the clinic’s own brand cannabis flower. Clinic refers to the chosen clinic to be applied through under the advice of BCC admin staff – BCC reserves the right to change the chosen clinic if and when necessary, in which case winners will be informed in due time.]
1. The winner/s will be decided by BCC Admin on or before the last day of June 2022. As a result of this, if you have any connections, relatives or otherwise associated within the BCC Admin team, please declare this as soon as possible so that we can address any conflicts of interest.
2. No fee will be paid in exchange for entry into the draw – application is via email to the BCC email address only, to include a brief description of why the applicant thinks they deserve the “prize”. We, as BCC, accept that access to healthcare should not be a “prize”. We are trying to raise awareness of the financial discrimination against therapeutic cannabis consumers in the UK. This is the best that we can do, at present.
3. A maximum of three winners will be selected by the BCC team during this first run. BCC expects to continue offering these draws, should the first one be successful.
4. A maximum cost-cap will be applied to the prescription, to exceed no more than 10g of the clinic’s own brand cannabis flower. We want to be able to provide for those in need, but we must be able to do so sustainably. This is the sustainable limit to our current finances. Should the winner wish to purchase more than 10g on their first prescription, they may do so by topping up with their own money. This is to ensure the sustainability of our offer, and of BCC itself.
5. One application per person. Multiple nominations for the same person will be counted as one, but all submitted text will be addressed individually.
6. People may apply for themselves, or nominate a chosen individual for the “prize”. This must be stated in the application email, or in a reply to this message.
7. The “prize” itself includes the following: One initial consultation with a cannabis clinic in the UK; and one month of prescribed cannabis medication. A limit of 10g of the clinic’s own brand cannabis flower will be applied to the winner’s prescription.
8. BCC Admin staff will liaise with the clinic and winner/s to ascertain whether or not individuals will be selected – if after this communication it is decided that the clinic route is not appropriate, BCC will endeavour to find alternative (and legal) routes of action.
9. BCC Admin staff reserve the right to refuse winners their “prize” under the following circumstances (which may happen before, during or after the application process):
– If the applicant/winner is in any way abusive or violent towards BCC Admin staff
– If the applicant/winner is found to be ineligible for a legal cannabis prescription
– If the applicant/winner should lose their faculties, or be in any other way decided “non compos mentis”
10. There is no exchange option for the “prize”, neither in product nor in monetary value.
11. BCC reserves the right to cancel, postpone or stop the application process at any time – we assure you that we will not do this unless absolutely necessary.
12. After receipt of the “prize” absolutely no exchange, neither in kind nor in monetary value, may be obtained from BCC.
13. All applicants must apply to the chosen clinic themselves – BCC Admin staff can advise according to their expertise and knowledge, but all applications will be done in the applicant/winner’s name.
14. BCC aims to raise awareness of legal, prescribed cannabis in the UK. As such, unless declared in response to this email, applicants and/or winners agree to their anonymous inclusion in future press/media releases from BCC in any and/or all of their digital and physical presences. Winners/participants can easily opt out of this by sending a brief email in response to this message saying “I do not consent to my anonymous information being used in future BCC publications.” Should applicants/winners wish to be included without anonymity, they may respond with the following: “I am happy for my name to be used in future publications by BCC.”
Recently I looked at the medical cannabis clinics on behalf of the patients I support and fight for. The scheme is still very much in it’s infancy and needs our assistance to make it what it needs to be. The regulations although complex and expensive for business don’t actually offer the needed protection for patients, so it can be a pretty cowboy industry currently with the black market in many instances beating it on quality and professional service. Saying that it can be what is needed on the medical side and once adopted widely will help with the arguments for the recreational side as an alternative to alcohol which is not for all.
The Medical Cannabis Clinic partner with prof Nutt’s project21 which collates your data to contest with NICE/NHS over the need for medical cannabis and the conditions it is working for helping the fight for cannabis freedom and also giving you discounted appointments and products for being a part of the scheme. Sapphire also have their own scheme collecting the same data for a discount on appointments and products but I guess intend to sell or use this data commercially, but I’d guess stil helps the fight a little. There may be others above who do similar to this I’m not currently aware of.
Sapphire attracted me as they offer to take the hassle out of obtaining your doctors notes which can save a few weeks of back and forth with some doctors. However in practice this is hit and miss for two reasons. One the clinics don’t charge for this service but obviously it costs them in staffing to do this so they try to keep it as simple as possible and I feel send a generic email/fax to the surgery, and often don’t follow up etc. Two the surgeries are often resistant due to confidentiality or their views on medicinal cannabis and or the patient, so they need to be reassured, pestered or threatened with action if they don’t comply, which is something the clinics don’t have the funds for as they don’t and can’t charge for this work. I find it’s best here to write a letter to your doctor specifically targeting the conditions and treatment information for your qualifying conditions. Getting it to the clinics can also be tricky but if you press them they will give you a postal address, failing that you need to scan and reduce the image size as much as you can and even batch send the scans to the clinic to avoid them being too large for email.
Due to the very tight operating costs associated with the clinics they haven’t really tuned their processes well or bought in the right systems. Now they are operating it makes it harder to tweak these processes and systems and replace systems not fit for purpose. Even the consultation required to get this right is out of their budget so they go for the simplest offering that will just do. This leads to what we used to term in the IT trade as helldesks, running helldesk software, which is hell for the operators and hell for the customer. It leads to them answering communications in strict order, rather than looking at all comms and responding to the incident as a whole. Trying to close tickets as quickly as possible vs efficiently as possible for customer and business. Inability to receive and attach some types of data to tickets etc. Thankfully most of these issues are easily resolved by getting them on the phone, which will hopefully give them a kick to fix up their systems and process as having operators tied up on calls is expensive as hell in this scenario.
This is echoed in consultation booking and payment handling where the systems are cheap or not fit for purpose and the process around them weak or illogical. Adding to that during covid many are dealing with voice conferencing for the first time in their life so it’s quite common for them to fail to join sessions, set expectations the software can’t match on all platforms. If this happens you are supposed to call a hotline number but a lot of these consults are out of hours if you can schedule for during business hours to avoid a wasted evening etc.
Once all your notes have been reviewed, agreements signed, consultation booked and consultation payment paid you will see the doctor either at surgery or via video conference, note this is the first payment for the service and this payment goes directly to the doctor and as the consultation, especially when you factor in the later board discussion before they prescribe costs more than what they charge you for consultancy fee. So at this point they need to prescribe to you just to break even else they will make a loss. The consultation is mostly about checking your doctors notes which surprised me as I felt that could have been done prior to the call. They also run though some safeguarding type questions before a brief chat about your conditions and experience with medicinal cannabis. Sadly this is a very brief chat as they are very underskilled here and only just about understand THC and CBD as a concept so the safeguarding etc takes priority and they often dismiss things they are being told I feel due to their lack of comprehension. There is little knowledge on products, administration methods, and how it helps conditions. This means you as the patient here need to be informed and assertive to get what you need for conditions and avoid things you don’t need. For example, overpriced products like CBD only preparations cheaper elsewhere, non suitable products(could be terpenes that will have a negative effect, or consumption methods that don’t work for the patient), un effective or dangerous dosage in terms of amounts and timings, bad quality products like ground full plant or terpene removed or even mould. The compassion clubs and orgs and caregivers can help here to ensure all taking this path are as knowledgeable as they can be until we can pressure the clinics to insert someone knowledgeable between the doctor and the patient who can truly understand and liaise with the doctor on their behalf. These doctors are risking a lot to prescribe too so it’s in their interest to skill up but currently they don’t have a source to do this, again some of the larger compassion and education orgs can help with this and a few are currently running courses for health and law professionals. We need more of these and more professionals to be aware and sign up.
There are some very dubious company hierarchies and commercial agreements at work here too. So as mentioned previously the consultation and service is a loss up until prescription kickback rolls in. This pushes clinics to prescribe products they get a bigger kickback on. To achieve these the clinics that are owned by large holding groups(investors) also own a dispensary and a brand. So they favour their own dispensary and brand and this factors higher than patient needs unless you are assertive and pull them on it. If that fails they then have commercial agreements with other dispensaries so they still get a little kickback again influencing prescription. This is why most seem to receive exactly the same from a clinic and the big push for cbd only products as the markup is huge! If your clinics dispensary doesn’t have what you need don’t be shy in asking them about other dispensaries/brands, you don’t have to buy what’s prescribed and can buy just what you need from the list prescribed. Below is a small table showing some of the groups, their dispensary, and their brand:
Group – Clinic – Dispensary – Brand LYPHE – The medical cannabis clinics – Dispensary Green – NOIDECs EMMAC – Sapphire – CBPM – Adven IPS/Grow Pharma – Integro – Grow
It is a wonder to me that government does not want what they term as criminals in this space profiting from the sales of an illegal drug. However they don’t do a lot to ensure that big business(big pharma, and in the future alcohol and tobacco industry) act responsibly in putting patients need before profit and instead allow them to create business plan that depends purely on selling medicinal cannabis to patients when they also prescribe the products. This reminds me of the opioid epidemic in the states where doctors had been incentivised to sell opiods to those who don’t need them. With this being a new industry and a slight monopoly due to the issues with obtaining licenses etc it definitely needs more government scrutiny to keep it honest else it will end up like snakeoil cbd sellers we have seen plague the community in the early CBD adoption period. There is a danger to asking the government to regulate here again though in that they may sight this as a failure and remove the scheme totally, so we need to take this to allies in politics for advice on how to move forward.
If you need assistance with this contact your local compassion org who should be able to help, if they can’t contact Bristol Compassion Club and we will do what we can to assist them to assist you and their members.
So it’s been a quiet few months since we closed the HQ project in February and we have all be itching for a sesh! So the picnic was more than welcome! Also a great opportunity for us get back into the practise of running events as it had been a while, especially on the public front. I spent the morning before sorting out the large pile of club kit that had spent the last few months blocking my back passage which was also a great relief as those of you with IBS will sure agree. After a quick trip to cash and carry for refreshments and supplies all was set ready for the morning. I teamed up with another club member and loaded up and headed to the meeting point. Communicating with the rest of the team along way to pickup and drop more club kit from other admins storage. On arrival we were greeted by a few early birds from the national cannabis community and more club admins. After some long overdue hugs and catch-up chit chat we proceeded to empty the vehicles and setup the stalls with all giving a hand here and there it was light work and up in no time. Music blaring, smoke in the air, and groups of smiling socialising people we sent out instagram and facebook stories to those yet to come and those missing out. Despite the rain on and off many peeps came out and supported with a loyal following staying through out as we laughed at the rain and our stoner tech impromptu shelters and coverings! The club signed up and extended around 5 members, some who had been waiting a while for this opportunity. We shared the vibes and the herbs and even got to see the variety of new legally prescribed pots slowly being prescribed to local people. The day ended with smiles and many went on to share a meal together after the days consumption some good eating was definitely needed 🙂 Big thanks to all the collectives, national community and sound system who made it down to support the club and it’s members. Also a special thanks to the members for braving the rain! We look forward to seeing you all again soon! Keep your eyes peeled for the next raffle as we have a few ready in the pipeline! Also get ready for our pushes around medical cannabis and gyo both much needed fights for Cannabis freedom at the moment.