Getting to Know - Julian Huppert

After his PhD, Julian Huppert was elected a Junior Research Fellow of Trinity College in 2004, and became a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge in 2009. He worked as a research scientist studying the structures of DNA as well as tutoring students.

On returning to academic life in 2015, Huppert lectured on science and technology policy at the Cavendish Laboratory, and in 2016 was appointed as the founding director of a new centre, the Intellectual Forum, based at Jesus College.


We have asked our Trustees and Patrons some "Quick-Fire" Questions so you can get to know a little more about their involvement with United Patients Alliance and capture their thoughts on how medical cannabis policy is progressing the UK.

Hello, Julian:

Why do you support patients accessing cannabis as medicine? 

Why should anyone be deprived of a medicine that can help them? Cannabis clearly has medical benefits - like most medicines, it has associated side effects, but the benefits clearly exceed those.

How did you first get involved with cannabis as medicine law change/campaigning?

To be honest, I can’t remember - I’ve been in favour of drug law reform for as long as I can recall. The prohibitionist approach that we currently have causes harm to many people.

Why did you choose to get involved with United Patients Alliance?

I see medical cannabis as a crucial first step to achieving a more sensible drug policy, and hearing from patients is an important way to get people to listen - it makes the discussion more real.

What is your personal background and why is this relevant to cannabis as medicine?

I’m an academic and politician. I used to work identifying anti-cancer drug targets, so am familiar with the challenges faced by all medications.

What are the most compelling arguments for legal access to cannabis as medicine?

It benefits patients with relatively small side effects. The argument for it not to be legal is weak - and the burden of proof should lie with those trying to deny it to people.

What are the biggest hurdles in the UK to achieving legal access to cannabis as medicine?

I think we are getting there - slowly. We’ve faced a disappointing conservatism on this from the leaderships of both Conservatives and Labour, but I am now optimistic that can be stopped.

What existing systems/policies for accessing cannabis as medicine would you support and why? 

I’d ultimately go further and have a legal, regulated market in cannabis - it would be better and safer for people who take cannabis for whatever reason.

What are your biggest concerns right now for future medical cannabis legislation in the UK?

That largely unwarranted fears about drug harms will overweight the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

Do you have personal experience consuming cannabis?

Unusually, none. I was clearly too boring when I was younger!

Why is the 2018 UPA Medical Cannabis Patient Survey so important?

We need to know the realities for patients of cannabis to strengthen the evidence for its use as a medicine. Everyone in the UK who find cannabis to be beneficial for their health and well being should complete the survey now.

Thank you Julian!

You can discover more about Julian below, AND...

Julian in the News