For many years now, cannabis has been associated with peace and love, long-haired blissed out hippie folk and tie-tyed t-shirts.
Frankly, such an association is so outdated as to be laughable, though the attitude towards cannabis is just as backward.
It is not a gateway drug as many believe, nor has anyone ever died from using it, but we’re not going to talk about recreational hobbies. Cannabis, when used medicinally, is not only legal in the UK and many other countries besides, but the medical profession swear by it’s healing properties.
The NHS define the term ‘medicinal cannabis’ as that which refers to any type of medication that contains cannabis.
With the pain of patients with certain conditions alleviated by any number of cannabis products harvested for medicinal use only, it really is time for attitudes to change.
Cannabis Usage in the UK – What Research Says
As recently as late 2020, researchers noted that UK patients numbering in the hundreds of thousands were treating themselves with illegal cannabis-based products.
The only reason for so doing was because a fair part of the medical profession – to include pharmacies – refuse to prescribe these products for patients. Frankly, the amount of medical studies done over the past few years alone, should render such attitudes moribund.
If people could only get past their personal prejudice towards what they believe cannabis represents, patients would have immediate access to cannabis’ healing properties and, arguably, take one hell of a burden off of the NHS.
Given that UK made ‘medicinal use only’ cannabis products have been legal since 2018, it is a deriliction of duty for so many medical practitioners to still be dragging their heels.
It’s worth reiterating that CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the marijuana plant.
Those products that contain CBD (cannabidiol) only contain trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, hence why it is legal in the UK.
As the government have explained before now, at present, it must only be prescribed on a case-by-case basis and by specialist doctors.
NHS Reluctance To Cannabis = Black Market
The NHS have hardly made any cannabis products available on prescription to this point, so patients have been forced to go private and be charged in the region of £1,000 a month in the process.
As a result, patients or parents of children with severe epilepsy – for example – have had to buy cannabinoid medication overseas or via the black market. Given the lack of provenance for the latter, the issues are manifest and absolutely avoidable.
What’s infuriating for many is that there remains an overwhelming slew of evidence which notes the effectiveness of cannabis products for medicinal use – and this can be traced as far back as 2015.
Indeed, patients, parents, pharmacists and the like were consulted on why the UK’s attitudes didn’t appear to chime with much of the rest of the western world by the Imperial College London, London School of Economics and Drug Science.
Despite factual based evidence to the contrary – children and adults who have severe forms of epilepsy; patients with multiple sclerosis that causes them to experience muscle stiffness and spasms, and adults undergoing chemotherapy who have all reported positive outcomes – the findings were such that it was clear certain distinct barriers were still in place in terms of the prescription of cannabis-based medicinal drugs.
Furthermore, where other medicines were either rejected by the body or were ineffective on a patient, international research and evidence found that there was a significant improvement in the majority of cases for those patients being treated with medicinal cannabis.
Cost savings to the NHS
It’s believed that many practitioners have largely based their opinions on cannabis on what they’ve read or watched over the decades, rather than taking a more liberal and forward-thinking attitude to the subject.
If a person in the UK is found in possession of cannabis, there is a possibility of a five-year prison term or a fine, but if it is supplied, a life sentence or unlimited fine isn’t uncommon.
The issue is that such draconian punishments relate to cannabis for recreational use. Medicinal cannabis is legal but far too many people are confusing the issue.
Patient-centered Medical Cannabis for medicinal use
Organisational bureacracy, and an insistence on medical cannabis being classed as a ‘special’ product by the government hasn’t helped in some scenarios either.
Cost savings for the NHS would be on a scale unimaginable at this point.
There would be less need for opioids to be prescribed for chronic pain, and hospital stays would be greatly reduced, easing the burden significantly.
“The failure of the medical and pharmacy professions to embrace CBPMs despite their being made ‘legal’ over 24 months ago is a great worry to patients and may have led to preventable deaths from conditions such as epilepsy,” the researchers concluded.
“We hope that this paper will help policymakers and prescribers understand the challenges to prescribing and so help them develop approaches to overcome the current highly unsatisfactory situation.”