Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT)

  • Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The collection contains the papers of the pressure group the Alliance for Cannabis Therapuetics (ACT) which was set up in 1992 by Elizabeth Clare Brice. She adopted the name Clare Hodges to protect her children who were young at the time. It should be noted that she is referred to as Elizabeth Brice throughout the catalogue.

Elizabeth Brice graduated from Oxford University in Latin and Greek and then worked as a journalist in the medical press. From 1981 she worked in television as a producer of medical documentaries which involved filming in China, Japan, India, Bangladesh, America, and Israel. She died in 2011 and is survived by her husband Duncan Dallas, founder of Café Scientifique, and her two sons.

She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1983, but it was 1992 before she started using cannabis to help her condition after she read a medical report from America. With two other patients, in 1992 she set up the ACT, an informal association of patients, doctors and politicians, with the support of the American organisation of the same name.

ACT initiated the debate about medical use of cannabis in the UK, keeping the debate going by giving interviews and writing articles for the press. ACT exerted pressure politically and took two delegations to the Department of Health and Home Office. On the second one in 1997, ACT invited the British pharmaceutical entrepreneur Geoffrey Guy to join, and asked ministers if he could be given a licence to cultivate cannabis for research. In 1998 Guy founded the company G.W. Pharmaceuticals to produce and market medically useful extracts from the cannabis plant.

In 1997 ACT was very involved in the British Medical Association's official report 'The Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis.' (1997) Elizabeth was interviewed by a House of Lords Select Committee in 1998 on the subject. This was published as the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology Ninth Report, Nov 1998.

Elizabeth appeared as an expert witness in a trial about illegal use of medical cannabis. She also acted as Patient Representative to the Board of Directors of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (AKA International Association for Cannabis as Medicine.

The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) was founded in March 2000. It is a scientific society advocating the improvement of the legal situation for the use of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L.) and its pharmacologically most important active compounds, the cannabinoids, for therapeutic applications through promotion of research and dissemination of information. The IACM declares that it is the right of doctors to be able to discuss the medicinal use of cannabis with their patients.

As a result of ACT's pressure, a medicine spray called 'Sativex' that contains cannabinoids is now available to be prescribed on the NHS (although it is not funded by the NHS and patients have to purchase it themselves.)

Elizabeth Brice participated in a Wellcome Witness seminar on 'The Medicalisation of Cannabis' in Spring 2009. This was published in 2010. S M Crowther, L A Reynolds and E M Tansey (eds), The Medicalisation of Cannabis Volume 40 (London: Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCl, 2010) These are freely available as downloadable pdfs.

Archival material relating to the seminar are also available in the Wellcome Library's archive and manuscript collections and are catalogued under GC/253.

Further information on Elizabeth Brice (also known as Clare Hodges) can be found on her Wikipedia page and in her Guardian Obituary.

Related material held in the Wellcome Library.

This collection fits neatly with two other recently catalogued collections of material within the library on the medicinal use of illegal drugs. Most recently, the papers of Ronald Sandison (1916-2010) a psychiatrist who pioneered the use of LSD in the treatment of schziophrenics. The papers in the collection cover include his use of LSD therapy and insulin therapy, his work with alcoholics on Shetland, family planning, and his role as a member of the Group Analytical Society. Some personal dream analyses and a typescript of an autobiographical account of his professional career are also included. Some restrictions apply to items in this collection. Further information can be found on the Wellcome Catalogue under PP/SAN and can be accessed via the archives and manuscripts catalogue:

The archives of the Group Analytic Society, of which Sandison was an active member, are held as SA/GAS

The library also contains the papers relating to Brian Iddon's (b.1940) interest in matters concerning illicit drugs, euthanasia, and legislation surrounding medicinal products, dating from his time as an MP in the Labour governments of 1997-2010. He had many and wide-ranging interests whilst in Parliament but took a particular interest in matters relating to government policy on illicit drugs, euthanasia, and legislation surrounding medicinal products. He was the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Drugs Misuse Group and also acted as a Patron for the Care Not Killing Alliance Ltd, an organisation that campaigns against assisted suicide and euthanasia and which promotes better palliative care. These can be ordered online via the PP/IDD

Researchers may also find the Archives and Manuscript Source Guide on Alcohol and Drugs useful.



Physical description

15 boxes, plus 1 O/S box


The collection is divided into 7 main sections dealing with the day-to-day running of the organisation charting it's work and activities. The sections are divided as follows:

SA/ACT/A Correspondence

SA/ACT/B Administrative Files

SA/ACT/C House of Commons Select Committee


SA/ACT/E ACT Subject Files

SA/ACT/F/ Press Cuttings

SA/ACT/G Promotional Material

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Appraisal note

The collection also contained two packets of cannabis seeds and a small vial of liquid cannabis. These have been removed from the collection and are held in a lockable cabinet under the Wellcome Collection's license to keep drugs on the premises.


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Accession number

  • 1747