An initiative in the United Kingdom wants to pay medical cannabis patients for feedback to improve the industry.
Advocacy organization Volteface has partnered with cannabis consultancy group Maple Tree Consultants to launch Patients First, a program that will pay patients for participating in professionally facilitated focus groups.
Volteface says the scheme, kicking off on Thursday, was created in response to a significant number of patients voicing their frustrations on social media about the quality of medical cannabis in the U.K.
Patients First has been set up to promote a patient-led practice so the industry can engage with medical cannabis patients, says Katya Kowalski, head of operations at Volteface.
“At the moment there is a significant disconnect between patients and industry groups in the U.K. medical cannabis sector. Patients often feel their perspectives are not being heard by the industry,” she says in a statement.
The initiative seeks constructive feedback on patient experiences with medical cannabis. The information from the focus groups will aim to guide the industry in a sustainable direction, while giving patients a formal outlet to voice their concerns.
Any patient taking medical cannabis in the U.K. can sign up for the initiative through a secure database. All data will remain confidential, and patients can participate anonymously or use a pseudonym. They’ll be paid for their time.
Volteface points out that failing to listen patients’ needs risks fuelling the illicit market if they lose faith in legally supplied pot.
A Volteface report estimates about 2,500 patients in the U.K. access medical cannabis through a private prescription. But it’s too expensive, so about 1.4 million people self-medicate with illicit weed.
While access poses a challenge, medical cannabis patients have seen positive effects from treatment.
A recent analysis of medical cannabis users’ experiences in the U.K. found that it seems to be effective for a range of conditions, and is more tolerable than other commonly prescribed medications.