A West Wight farmer with a difference is aiming to put the Island at the centre of a world leading group working on the understanding and treatment of fibromyalgia and related conditions.
Adam Mawer, 44, is entering his second year of cultivating cannabis plants under licence from the Home Office. Working with The Future Clinic in Cowes who specialise in the treatment of fibromyalgia, researchers at the University of Southampton and Cambridge Laboratories he has been investigating the link between the debilitating long-term condition and the relief that medicinal cannabis products can bring.
The precise cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it causes intense pain throughout the body and is believed to be related to abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system carries pain messages around the body.
After almost four years of unexplained pain and visits to various specialists, Adam’s partner Laurie was finally diagnosed with the condition around two years ago. Adam had been searching for an alternative to the multiple strong medications she was prescribed which brought unwelcome side-effects, and this eventually led to the launch of a new career for the Island businessman, whose family have lived here for over 40 years.
Laurie found that cannabinoids, naturally found in cannabis plants were the most effective and natural way to manage her symptoms, but Adam discovered that there was little understanding, and even less research into why or how they worked. Worryingly, over 80 per cent of cannabis extracts used in the UK are imported from Eastern Europe or China, with independent testing showing that the quality is highly variable. Strict drug legislation in the UK requires constant and reliable standards, so Adam set out to supply what was needed.
After passing stringent government and police checks he finally received a licence in April last year to grow Low THC Cannabis on his 60-acre Island Hemp Farm and quickly planted his first crop. Links with the Isle of Wight Fibromyalgia Society led to a meeting with Dr Gary Lee of the Future Clinic and they have now collaborated on a number of research studies to find out more about how cannabinoids can help in the treatment of Fibromyalgia and related conditions.
In this they have been supported by local company Wight CBD and other Island medical professionals with Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely assisting in dealings with the Home Office. Adam is currently waiting for a variation on his licence to be granted to permit him to not only to grow cannabis but also to manufacture a range of cannabis derived products. This will give total traceability and quality control over the extracts ti be used in the UK, and confidence to the medical profession and consumers.
Once granted, the licence will pave the way to a multi-million-pound research and development facility providing year-round employment for Islanders and, Adam says, substantial annual funding to Island good causes.
Speaking after the launch of the new website for Vecticanna, the company he has set up to manufacture the products Adam said: “This is a really exciting time for the company. Expansion will bring significant employment opportunities and mean the Island can become a world leader in the understanding and treatment of a number of pain related conditions.
There are over eight million people who suffer from unexplained pain, so the potential market is huge. The Island’s climate and weather gives us a fantastic geographical advantage which we want to make the most of, and I am keen for other Islanders to be a part of this journey.”
You can find out more at vecticanna.com.