MPs Say Cannabis Could Have A Role In Pain Relief
Cannabis is in the news again! A cross-party group of politicians say that there is clear evidence that cannabis could play a role in pain relief in certain conditions. They want the Home Office to reclassify herbal cannabis, putting it in the same category as steroids and sedatives. This would enable doctors to prescribe it to their patients and chemists could dispense it. People may also be allowed to grow cannabis in limited amounts for their own use.
What is the situation at present?
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform say that tens of thousands of people in the UK are breaking the law at present by using the drug to ease their chronic conditions. The Home Office says that there are no plans to change the situation by legalising the drug, which they say is “harmful.” The NHS cite a number of possible risks such as affecting the ability to drive, damaging the lungs if smoked, and harm to mental health, unborn babies and fertility problems.
At present, patients with multiple sclerosis can take a licensed medicine, Sativex, which is a mouth spray containing extracts from the cannabis plant. Other than this, anyone found using cannabis, even for medical reasons, could be charged with possession. This carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail or an unlimited fine. This rises to a maximum of 14 years in jail for those supplying or producing the drug.
The details of the study
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform looked at evidence from 623 patients, together with representatives from the medical profession and experts in the field of cannabis regulation throughout the world.
Baroness Molly Meacher, who co-chaired the group, said: ” Cannabis works as a medicine for a number of medical conditions. The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a growing number of countries and US states to legalise access to medicinal cannabis.
“Against this background, the UK scheduling of cannabis as a substance that has no medical value is irrational.”
The group found good evidence that medical cannabis helped alleviate the symptoms of the following conditions:
- chronic pain including neuropathic pain
- nausea and vomiting, especially when associated with chemotherapy
- spacticity, such as in multiple sclerosis
They found moderate evidence of a beneficial effect in the following conditions:
- sleep disorders
- loss of appetite
- Parkinson’s disease
- post traumatic stress disorder
But they found limited or no evidence that cannabis helped in the following:
- dementia mood problems
- Huntington’s disease
- Tourette’s syndrome
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- bladder function
- disorders of the gut
- slowing cancer growth
The study found that the short term side effects were mild but in some long term users there was a link with schizophrenia. When compared to the dependency rates for tobacco and alcohol, at 32% and 15% respectively, a figure of 9% for cannabis is favourable but still needs to be taken seriously.
Professor Mike Barnes, an expert in rehabilitation medicine, said that after having analysed over 20,000 scientific and medical reports, the evidence is clear:
“Cannabis has a medical benefit for a wide range of conditions.”
He went on to say:
“I believe that with greater research, it has the potential to help with an even greater number of conditions.”
If you would like to read our earlier article on the subject, please click on the following link:
Finally, what do you think? Do you think that cannabis should be legalised for medical use in the UK?