Cannabis, a class-B drug available on prescription as a medicinal remedy for multiple sclerosis patients, could also be used to target cancer pain, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis and even schizophrenia if trials demonstrate its effectiveness.
What once seemed a controversial idea has now won widespread approval as Sativex, the first ever prescription cannabis-based medicine, is used in many parts of the world to help patients, though it is currently waiting approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cannabis is known to work on parts of the brain known as cannabinoid receptors.
The company behind its development, GW Pharmaceuticals, which was founded in 1998 by Dr Geoffrey Guy to develop cannabis as a medicine, has officially had the government's seal of approval after Agriculture Minister James Paice officially opened their labs near Cambridge in January where their clinical research team will co-ordinate global trials. The company grows 30 tonnes of cannabis a year at a secret location.
Demonstrating true entrepreneurial flair, and with firm conviction, Dr Guy told Cambridge Business magazine:
"Most people in our industry said it was impossible to turn cannabis into a prescription medicine. We had to rewrite the rule book. We have the first approval of a plant extract drug in modern history. It has 420 molecules, whereas every other drug has just one."
Congratulations to Dr Guy for thinking outside the box, and revolutionising plant drugs.
Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Committee is currently reviewing its drugs policy and will consider whether this is the right time to decriminalise drugs. Are we ready for that? No way, I'm not convinced.
Follow Ellee Seymour on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elleeseymour