Saturday 9th June 2018

Medicinal cannabis: for or against?

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The debate over medicinal cannabis is back in the spotlight after the Home Office allowed its use in the case of Billy Caldwell. Caldwell, a 12-year-old with severe epilepsy, made the news when his mother unsuccessfully attempted to bring cannabis oil back to the UK from Canada.

The Government have since announced that there will be a review of the use of medicinal cannabis, something the British public, for the most part, seem to welcome. For people with chronic conditions, the use not just of cannabis oil but of marijuana in general, can have huge benefits, particularly when it comes to pain management. But experiences aren’t consistent. In response to a recent post on Reddit, users with chronic conditions shared their experiences with marijuana.

An important point, which many Redditors made, was that the level of pain relief often depends on the levels of cannabinoids in different strains. CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the main two. THC is the cannabinoid that can cause negative psychiatric effects (if you’ve seen national treasure Jon Snow panic in an MRI machine after testing this theory for a documentary, you’ll know this already). CBD, however, is generally accepted to be safe.

For some people, smoking weed was an effective form of pain relief. One Redditor with nerve pain wrote, “From the moment I begin vaping week, it only takes a few minutes… for the pain to go away completely”. Other users wrote positively about CBD oil specifically.

Others, however, didn’t experience pain relief from marijuana. One Redditor with a spinal condition commented: “Weed has always worsened my pain of any kind. Initially it helps for about 30 minutes, but then some sort of sensitization response kicks in and I feel pain significantly worse for hours after.”

There are arguments for and against the use of cannabis for chronic conditions. Last year, the MS Society argued that people with multiple sclerosis should be allowed to use cannabis legally as a last resort if other treatment options haven’t worked. They have also campaigned to try and encourage the NHS to follow Wales’s lead and make a legal cannabis-based drug called Sativex available on prescription. To buy it privately costs about £2,000 per year, which means many people can’t afford it and end up buying illegal cannabis products instead.

What do you think about medicinal cannabis? Should the UK Government relax its rules or are they there for a reason? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.


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