A major clinical trial will probe whether a cannabis-based medicine can relieve debilitating symptoms in Parkinson’s sufferers.
The £1.2million study of cannabidiol (CBD) starting next year covers 145,000 patients and will focus on the hallucinations and delusions that hit up to 60% of cases.
The move comes after laws on cannabis-based medicines were relaxed last year, making them available on prescription for conditions including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Low-level concentrations of CBD oil – which lacks the psychoactive element of cannabis – are available from health food shops too.
But CBD is not available on prescription for Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s sufferer Paula Scurfield has had hallucinations and started buying CBD oil from high street chain Holland & Barrett.
The 71-year-old, from Beckenham, South East London, said patients are “desperate” and willing to try anything.
She added: “I think this clinical trial is important.
“The trouble is people are doing what I am and taking unregulated medicines. Or there’s people who may well get cannabis from a dealer or other unregulated sources.”
The trial will be led by Parkinson’s UK and King’s College London.
Dr Arthur Roach of Parkinson’s UK said: “There are many unanswered questions about the value of CBD for Parkinson’s but this will help determine whether it can help with hallucinations and delusions.”
Lead researcher Professor Sagnik Bhattacharya added: “We hope this will progress to large-scale trials – the final step towards becoming a new treatment that will improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”