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InvisibleveggieM

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[UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year
    #14302302 - 04/16/11 07:39 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year
April 17, 2011 - guardian.co.uk

Justin Gover, boss of GW Pharmaceuticals, explains how a drug called Sativex can ease the pain of multiple sclerosis sufferers – if the NHS can afford to buy it

Britain's only legal dope dealer looks quite ordinary. Bespectacled and wearing a dark grey suit, GW Pharmaceuticals' boss Justin Gover bears a closer resemblance to a City banker than someone who grows 20 tonnes of cannabis every year.

It is used to produce a multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, the world's first cannabis-based medicine, which is on the market in the UK, Spain, Canada and New Zealand. Called Sativex, it was the subject of a £20.7m international distribution deal last week with Swiss multinational Novartis – a tie-up with the potential to transform GW Pharmaceuticals' scale and sending its shares surging 15%.

Gover insists that Sativex – "medical marijuana" – does not get users high: "It's not just street cannabis put into a bottle." It is made from two cannabinoid substances found in the plant, THC and CBD. THC produces a high, but CBD counteracts it, and because Sativex is an oral spray the drug is absorbed more slowly than if it was smoked.

He is keen to dispel another myth: "We don't just plant seeds of cannabis. To get regulatory approval, we had to meet very strict standards. We had to know every vial of Sativex is identical."

The two strains of cannabis are each cloned and grown for eight weeks in a computer-controlled environment: "We end up with biological material that is entirely uniform."

Battling against scepticism in the Square Mile, Salisbury-based GW Pharmaceuticals has ploughed a lonely furrow as a listed company developing cannabis-based drugs since its flotation in 2001. The biotech firm keeps the location of its two cannabis fields secret; they are somewhere in southern England under 24-hour surveillance. Each plant is registered and genetically fingerprinted so it can be traced if stolen. GW needs special licences from the Home Office for sites, production, storage and exports, and the drug is transported in high-security vans to hospitals where it is put in a safe with opiates such as morphine.

For hundreds of thousands of MS patients with spasticity (muscle stiffness), Sativex promises pain relief where other drugs have failed. Gover says: "Picking up a teaspoon can be a problem and painful for people with MS. Sativex relieves the symptoms and improves sleep."

However, it is more expensive than other drugs and many health authorities are reluctant to pay for it. A 10ml bottle (equating to 90 sprays) costs £125, about £11 a day for the average user. Health authorities in the west and east Midlands and the south-west, including Cornwall and Devon, have come out against Sativex, saying it is not cost-effective.

This means that even though neurologists can make special applications to prescribe Sativex for MS patients with spasticity for whom other medicines do not work, applications are unlikely to be approved by primary care trusts (PCTs) in regions when money is tight. Other areas where patients have problems getting access to Sativex include East Anglia and Scotland. Nicola Russell, director of services at the MS Trust, says this is short-sighted: "If someone gets a pressure sore or falls over, the cost to the NHS is huge. The Trust believes that for a small number of people who have been assessed as appropriate by an MS specialist consultant, the NHS should be willing to fund Sativex."

Until GW won full approval for the drug in the UK last June, patients could be prescribed Sativex on a case-by-case basis – the "named patient programme" – and more than 90% of PCTs paid for it on the NHS. But public spending cuts have turned the availability of the spray, which is sold by GW's partner Bayer in the UK, into a postcode lottery.The MS Trust and patient groups are campaigning for PCTs to pay for Sativex. In contrast, in Spain the state healthcare system will pay for the drug. "The methods by which cost-effectiveness is evaluated are very poor," says John Zajicek, professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of Plymouth. "Where health budgets are being squeezed, any excuse not to make new medicines available is being used. I have written prescriptions [for Sativex], but have been told to stop writing them, even for people who are already on it. This is forcing people into using illegal sources again."

GW was founded in 1998 by Geoffrey Guy, a scientist with a long-held interest in plant medicine, and Brian Whittle, both entrepreneurs in the UK biotech industry. Unlike the opium poppy, which has spawned a whole generation of opiate medicines, cannabis had not been studied for its medical potential, despite its therapeutic history. "Cannabis has a long history of medical use which was then overtaken by the recreational effects," says Gover, who became managing director of GW in 1999. "In the early 1990s, it started to be understood how receptors in the brain – cannabinoid receptors – react."

GW was the first company in the world to seriously investigate its medical potential after its founders noticed that many MS sufferers resorted to smoking the illegal drug to alleviate their pain. The firm, which is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, is also running late-stage trials of Sativex as a treatment for cancer pain, and working on other cannabis-based drugs for conditions such as breast and brain cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and even schizophrenia – which some studies have suggested is more prevalent among recreational cannabis users.

Gover, who holds an MBA from French business school Insead, turned down a career in banking to go into the risky biotech sector. He had previously worked with Guy at one of his other firms: "This is a bit of an irresistible company in terms of what they do. I'm very proud of my career decision."

Even though some clinical trials went badly, and it took more than a decade for the first cannabis drug to reach the UK market, this is quite normal for new medicines, he says and the GW team never lost faith in the treatment's potential.

"I don't think we ever doubted the efficacy because the data we were seeing were very consistent from the early days," says Gover. "There have been, without doubt, difficult times for GW, but it is hard to recall a drug development programme that hasn't had delays and setbacks in its history."

The company, whose investors include M&G, Gartmore, Aviva, Schroders and Blackrock, as well as many private shareholders, received a big boost from the deal with Novartis. The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant will sell Sativex in Australia, New Zealand, Asia (excluding China and Japan), the Middle East and Africa.

GW already has licensing agreements with Bayer for the UK and Canada (where Sativex has been on the market since 2005), Almirall for most of Europe and Otsuka for the US. It anticipates regulatory approval later this year in Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Czech Republic.


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OfflineKonyap


Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 33,945
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: veggie]
    #14302595 - 04/16/11 08:40 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

one way or the other theyre gonna screw you they're goin to getcha getcha getcha


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InvisibleEpilson Lyrae
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: Konyap] * 1
    #14302888 - 04/16/11 09:34 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Big Pharma makes money off of weed and that's ok.
so long as it makes investors rich.
But the average person still faces arrest for wanting to use the same plant.
This world is fucking bizzaro world.


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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." H.T.
I've come to believe that the heart is the filter of the enlightened mind. Epilson Lyrae


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: Epilson Lyrae]
    #14303041 - 04/16/11 10:02 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

i will officially be getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis this week:sad: and this medicine is fully funded here where i live.
i will be given this option of treatment and i will probably give it a try, i dont really have muscle spasms now but i have had them:feelsbadman:.
cannabis helps ease many of my symptoms, i just wish i could experiment with different strains and between indica and sativa.


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Offlineadamantasaurus
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: Epilson Lyrae]
    #14303058 - 04/16/11 10:05 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

fuck Sativex


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: adamantasaurus]
    #14303094 - 04/16/11 10:10 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

adamantasaurus said:
fuck Sativex


:trolldance::shrug:


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InvisibleAbstraKt_I_Am


Registered: 12/21/10
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: monkiman]
    #14303155 - 04/16/11 10:21 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

So hippocriticlly fucked up. Watch when legalization happens. Anyone growing the shit who isn't regulated will probally still face jail time even if you could have pounds legally.


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: AbstraKt_I_Am]
    #14303185 - 04/16/11 10:29 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

AbstraKt_I_Am said:
So hippocriticlly fucked up. Watch when legalization happens. Anyone growing the shit who isn't regulated will probally still face jail time even if you could have pounds legally.



legalization? where?
i wish it would happen but i just dont think it will.
its still a step in the right direction to have something like this available to people that suffer with MS, instead of the shitty pharmaceuticals with shitty side effects.


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OfflineKonyap


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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: monkiman]
    #14303428 - 04/16/11 11:16 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

shit you guys crazy 90 percent of the shit pharmaceuticals use is illegal(opium)

because you cant cure someone with pharmas they're just for fighting infrections and pain releif

they dont actually do much besides that!


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: Konyap]
    #14303589 - 04/16/11 11:51 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

aiyobro said:
shit you guys crazy 90 percent of the shit pharmaceuticals use is illegal(opium)

because you cant cure someone with pharmas they're just for fighting infrections and pain releif

they dont actually do much besides that!




yes they cant cure but its not that simple for some people.
some pharmaceuticals can greatly improve a persons quality of life.
diet/lifestyle choice is primary, and alliterative/traditional/herbal medicine have there place too.
the polarization of the issue seems to be the problem, and it probably all boils down money/political interests.
i am trying to find a balance to manage my illness:shrug:


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Offlinehighc
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: monkiman]
    #14303937 - 04/17/11 01:21 AM (9 years, 10 months ago)

But u Dont get high off it. Wtf! Fuck CBD. These people have MS for crying out loud!


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: highc]
    #14304152 - 04/17/11 02:28 AM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

highc said:
But u Dont get high off it. Wtf! Fuck CBD. These people have MS for crying out loud!



i think you can get high off it, the body converts a significant amount of the THC in Sativex into 11-hydroxy THC which is about four times stronger than THC.
i think they say you cant to get high off it so that it gets approval of some kind, but in the list of side effects euphoria/intoxication are mentioned.:shrug:


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Offlineshr
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: veggie]
    #14305151 - 04/17/11 10:58 AM (9 years, 10 months ago)

late april fools joke.... right?


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: shr]
    #14306636 - 04/17/11 04:14 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

shr said:
late april fools joke.... right?



no joke, why do you say that?


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Invisiblenopalero
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Registered: 08/04/10
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: monkiman]
    #14307812 - 04/17/11 07:34 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

i'm wondering why they don't say this might actually increase the pain in some cases or even bring on a spasmatic attack.

just keeping it real. :billnye::happyweed:


--------------------
the dinosaurs will be back.
only that which has passed can be predicted.
life is both a mirror and a window.

THE GRAYS HOPE TO WIN. STOP. RAINBOW NEEDED URGENTLY.


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Offlinedshow
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: nopalero]
    #14307882 - 04/17/11 07:46 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

its ok for companies to sell incredibly addicting opiates and cigarettes. but picking a muchroom out of the ground or smoking sativa. thats a nono  :wow:


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OfflineJoolz
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: nopalero]
    #14307921 - 04/17/11 07:54 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

So this guy can have cannabis but the common person can't. That's all sorts of assbackwards.  :crankdre:


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Prohibition didn't work for God; Eve ate the fruit.


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Invisiblemonkiman
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: Joolz]
    #14308486 - 04/17/11 09:51 PM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

nopalero said:
i'm wondering why they don't say this might actually increase the pain in some cases or even bring on a spasmatic attack.

just keeping it real. :billnye::happyweed:



you are quite right, weed has in some instances made my pain worse, but other times its taken the pain away:shrug:

Quote:

dshow said:
its ok for companies to sell incredibly addicting opiates and cigarettes. but picking a muchroom out of the ground or smoking sativa. thats a nono  :wow:



its a crazy fucked up, profit based world we live in, unfortunately.:sad:

Quote:

Joolz said:
So this guy can have cannabis but the common person can't. That's all sorts of assbackwards.  :crankdre:



its a crazy fucked up world.


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OfflineslagMUFFIN
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: monkiman]
    #14310238 - 04/18/11 04:14 AM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Big Pharma at its best!
I thought marijuana had no therapeutic potential? Yet someone has developed a treatment based on its active ingredient. Another marinol argument i suppose.


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enveloping stuff and fucking shitup with perixomes.
I will lysis the shit outta yew!


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Offlinerunningfox2002
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Re: [UK] The man who secretly (and legally) grows 20 tonnes of cannabis a year [Re: slagMUFFIN]
    #14310266 - 04/18/11 04:28 AM (9 years, 10 months ago)

Don't know if y'all know it but theres a thing where you can't patent a plant itself.  Granted iwatched a show about this seed company that got their seed accidentally mixed in with a farmers crop and then sued the farmer.  Long story short....they patented the genetic variant of the crop they had. 

I alwYs thought that's why pharma didn't lobby for it due to not being able to patent cannabis.  If they made their own genetic strain I bet they could.

Also sativex would be helpful just not at those costs.


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                              ...to have some fun?                            Nobody knows :wink:

Anything I say or talk about is strictly for my own search of knowledge and to satisfy my thirst of curiosity.


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