Top Secret Cannabis Lab in Birmingham!

Liz Filmer
31 Jul 2022

One of the country's first licenced medical cannabis labs, in Birmingham, has recently started its first medical trial with a product designed to be used for epilepsy and chronic pain disorders. The location of the top-secret facility, however, is tightly under wraps.

CEO James Short was originally uncertain about entering the world of medical Cannabis. But he decided to get involved once he understood what the plant could do for patients. 

Mr Short said, "I founded Celadon back in 2018. It was my son and a business partner of his who asked if I would invest in the CBD oil. I was around a lot of places in Canada and the US and met a lot of patients that were using cannabis oil in the UK and abroad. I saw that, for certain people, this product worked. I took control of a facility in Birmingham in 2017, so we were fortunate that we had a facility that ticked many boxes to do indoor Cannabis growing."

Since then, £30 million has been invested into the facility. The company has spent the last three-and-a-half years going through the regulation process and employing and training the right people. 

Celadon is working to treat people with conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain. "In January of last year, we were the first company since legalisation to get the correct certificates to allow us to start growing the product."

Since Celadon launched the trial in the latter part of 2021, they have already reported remarkable results. "We own the majority share of LVL Health Clinic in Harley Street, and this is the only approved UK trial in cannabis," Mr Short added.

Taking the medication needs a unique device and app. The cannabis flower is ground up and put into a cartridge, delivered to your home. You then scan the barcode in the app, which activates the device

The app is monitored to see if the patient has had one or two daily doses. It can also monitor your heart rate and ask any necessary questions.

The collection of data is for the NHS to reimburse Celadon for the product in the future. Currently, the treatment is only available privately, a barrier to many chronic pain sufferers.

The treatment is only available privately at the moment. "It is £299 per month. If you think about that, it's about £3,500 - £4,000 per year which sounds expensive, but it's costing the NHS approximately £15,000 a year to look after the same chronic pain patient. Whereas if they come on to our study, they can do it for £4,000 a year." Said, Mr Short

He continued: "Cannabis has always had a stigma, and I have to say that I was one of those who people brought up knowing Cannabis was illegal. Only once I started getting involved did I think, 'flipping heck, this is incredible. It is a revelation, and it's only the beginning. What else will we be able to do over the next ten to twenty years with the technology?"

Recruitment is still ongoing and will hopefully expand to 5,000. "Once we have 100 people on the study, we can go back to the ethics comity and up to 5,000 patients. It has taken two years to design the trial, so at the end of it, we will have enough data to get it reimbursed on the NHS hopefully. Then it gives access to people who can't afford it. Our facility is vast; it's three times the size of afootball pitch. I want to get to that bit to be able to help them."

If the facility was fully operational, it could produce enough Cannabis for 50,000 patients. That amounts to an annual £90million, a colossal opportunity.

When you look at the figures, it is incredible how many people this kind of trial has the potential to help if Cannabis was approved on a broader scale through the NHS.

"The government have come out with a stat of 8 million people with chronic pain that they are treating today, so we have a good way to go. We generate about nine tonnes of cannabis crop a year when fully operational. We probably have two or three years' head start against any other potential competitor. We would need 16 of our facilities to deal with two per cent of the chronic pain patients being treated by the NHS."

Liz Filmer