THE BLOG

Medical Cannabis

06/03/2014 11:28 GMT | Updated 05/05/2014 10:59 BST

The controversial question regarding medical cannabis (or medical marijuana) being made legal worldwide, is still unresolved. There are many patients using medical cannabis which successfully alleviates to some degree the suffering from different types of chronic pain, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, various forms of cancer, also reducing nausea and vomiting for people receiving chemotherapy and numerous other illnesses. In a number of countries, cannabis used purely for medicinal purposes, whether inhaled or taken in the form of drops administered under the tongue, is legal. There are other countries, such as England, where it is strictly prohibited.

Research is ongoing regarding the effects of medical cannabis on other conditions and diseases, such as: Huntington's disease, Parkinson's, bipolar disorders, anorexia nervosa, dementia and epilepsy. There does not appear to be any official conclusive findings or data, for or against medical cannabis. It is not known if there are long term detrimental effects, and taken incorrectly without supervision from doctors or professionals with some knowledge and experience is not advisable.

Morphine is widely accepted and proven effective, used in pain management by those chronically ill. Patients who require strong medication such as morphine do not experience any controversy or problem. However, bring up the question of cannabis and immediately stereotypical conceptions of what is deemed acceptable in society, and even the patient's motives can come into question. Due to cannabis still being classified as a slightly unorthodox method, even the word "drug" instead of "medication" unfairly pigeonholes this as a radical alternative treatment.

Cannabis cannot replace any of the regular medications available on the market today, but it may bring additional relief. Some patients encounter reduced pain, less stiffness and rigidity which in turn leads to a better night's sleep. I think anyone suffering a debilitating degenerative disease would agree that if one can achieve a good night's sleep, it's easier to cope during the day. Insomnia often goes hand in hand with chronic pain, and as a result sleepless nights and extreme fatigue are a constant problem, causing a catch 22 situation. As with all issues related to health, everything is very individual, and what helps one patient, doesn't necessarily help another. Some patients using medical cannabis can experience a better quality of life, where as others feel little or no improvement at all.

Once a simple medicinal herb, originally used in traditional Chinese medicine dates back to 2737 BCE. Most medicines originated from some form of plant or herb but we seem to forget this when we receive pills in various shapes, colours and sizes that are mass produced and neatly wrapped in sterile packaging. In 1906 things changed when the U.S. Government introduced the "Pure Food and Drug Act" which in turn created the "Food and Drug Administration" that we refer to now as the FDA.

It seems nonsensical that many strong prescription medications available today, known to be addictive or render harsh side effects, are readily available from doctors who willingly recommend these heavy-duty medicines. With so many dangerous harmful pills that are unreservedly accepted by the medical field and the general public, it seems rather absurd that medical cannabis has no reputable research data or findings, which may explain why it is not legally available everywhere. There appears to be stigma attached to cannabis which is unfairly grouped together with extremely lethal and hazardous drugs, that without doubt should remain illegal due to their destructive and addictive elements.

I'm not suggesting for one moment that everyone should be able to go to their local pharmacy or supermarket and purchase over the counter medical cannabis. However, it would be a step forward if a respectable professional clinical trial were undertaken. If the findings were proved sound, the ultimate goal being to alleviate patients suffering; those deemed responsible who could genuinely benefit, such as people suffering from various chronic or degenerative diseases, would be able to receive medical cannabis. I'm sure a secure procedure could be put in place ensuring no abuse of the system, where a patient would have to obtain a letter of recommendation from their doctor/hospital, going through correct medical channels, receiving approval and license in a legal and above board manner. I very much hope there will be a change in policy for the countries where medical cannabis is still illegal so that people suffering chronic illness can obtain the relief they rightly deserve.

Why should chronically ill people suffer in silence, when there may be a solution at hand? So what do you think? Should medical cannabis be legalised everywhere and made available to those who need it?

http://www.elainebenton.net/