Cannabis is a much maligned drug, it seems, for purely political reasons. In January this year the US Drug Enforcement Agency stated that there is 'evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in treatment in the United States'.
The DEA's position is similar to that of 2007 UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who flew in the face of the government's own top scientists' advice and declared that cannabis causes organic mental illness, not the temporary condition known as toxic psychosis her advisors all agreed. 'Though statistics show that cannabis use has fallen significantly, there is really public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use.' She clearly read too many black top tabloids...
Where abuse of any drug bar opiates can cause psychosis (former Downing Street press Secretary Alistair Campbell hallucinated on alcohol for instance) the real question to ask is whether the DEA is correct in its assertions that cannabis 'has no accepted medical value'? The UK government recently licensed a drug for Multiple Sclerosis that is... almost purely cannabis extract.
Sativex is described by the Canadian government website Health Canada as 'a cannabis based medicine containing extracts of chemically and genetically characterised Cannabis sativa L. plants. The principal active components are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).' Spliff in a pill!
In another article I suggested that if your company is large enough you would love medical regulation as the costs involved squeeze the little guys out of the market. The same appears to be the case with Sativex - the company has spent millions on clinical trials, got a medical license and is now making the huge investment back by selling it as medicine.
Not all forms of MS can be treated with cannabis. I have known two people with MS - one with a cannabis treatable type of MS, the other without. Before my family asked my aunt's doctor about her type, I was looking to source a high quality drug dealer to help her out. After I had, the doc said that it wouldn't help in her case. Some types do extremely well. CLEAR claims that 'there is evidence of cannabis actually reversing the condition'. This shouldn't be interpreted as cannabis 'curing' MS as if it did, the NHS couldn't refuse to pay for Sativex!
It may be argued that many people with the condition, who are advised by their doctor that their type of the illness can be treated with cannabis, become criminals overnight by having to buy the stuff illegally. In many cases they will have applied to the bean counters at their Primary Care Trust and been refused Sativex so in the face of a horrible condition, have been forced to become criminals to treat their illness because the state refuses to do so legally.
Cannabis doesn't only deal with MS. In 2009 the BBC reported that clinical trials had found that cannabis mouth spray helped with cancer pain treatment. It suggested that 'they found it reduced pain levels by 30% in a group of cancer patients, all in the Edinburgh area, who had not been helped by morphine or other medicines.'
It is known to help with AIDS, epilepsy, pregnancy labour pains, migraine and glaucoma. A number of US states have decriminalised cannabis use for medical reasons - those conditions known to be helped by the drug. Users in those states often find themselves safe from local police (if they have a medical license to use it) yet at risk of being prosecuted by the DEA under Federal Law! You can get paranoid on the drug, yet the medical cannabis user has just reason to be. A UK policeman having a bad day could arrest you and treat you as a common criminal for no other reason than his own ill found belief that cannabis is a nasty drug with no medical uses...
When the law flies in the face of common scientific understanding, it is a situation that only impacts on those who could benefit from being prescribed a drug known to help them. The real victims, as is often the case in the UK, are the most vulnerable who could benefit from political rhetoric ceasing and commonsense leading to a law change.
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