Cannabis for pain relief in ME? – video for discussion

February 25, 2011

This is an interesting video clip from a BBC programme, which includes the medicinal use of cannabis for pain relief by someone who has ME:

Contributions from:

Jason, who uses vaporised cannabis for pain relief;

Professor David Nutt, a leading scientific expert on the medicinal uses of cannabis, who speaks in favour of relaxing the law on its medicinal use;

And the police, who are recorded raiding the home of someone growing cannabis.

Please note that cannabis is classified as a Class B drug and it is still illegal to use it for medicinal purposes here in the UK – but not in some countries abroad.

This is a clip from a series called “Cannabis – what's the harm?”, which was first broadcast as part of BBC3's ‘Dangerous Pleasures' season. The reporter is former EastEnders actor James Alexandrou.

Comments are welcome.

7 thoughts on “Cannabis for pain relief in ME? – video for discussion”

  1. Good to see this. I’ve often wished I could use cannabis in safe form for my ME – I don’t dare, I might be deported! (I’m Australian, permanently resident in UK). Did anyone see the other prog. about cannabis on BBC3 the other day where they showed an MS sufferer using a medically researched and developed mouth spray based on cannabis. They even explained how it worked physiologically for her. Does anyone know what stage the research on this is at, and whether there’s any chance on it being made available for ME? Another reason I don’t dare use cannabis is that they explained that it lowers blood pressure and increases risk of heart attack. I wonder whether this aspect has been reduced in the medical version. Any info, anyone?

    1. Hi Fish,

      Sorry it’s taken me until now to reply.

      The spray you speak of is Sativex, this is a subject I can speak of at length. Satixex is made and marketed by GW Pharmaceuticals, it is a pure THC and CBD extract with alcohol and peppermint.

      Its primary application is for M.S, but they do have a cancer drug on the way to market now. There have been trials on M.E, but the spray is largely being blocked in the UK. The current price of one vial of sativex costs aroud £111, so it is extremely expensive. There are many campaigns on sativex and availability (or lack of) that I can point you towards if you are interested in this subject.

      Sativex is simply a cannabis tincture reminiscent of yesteryear’s medicines. Until fairly recently, cannabis was prevalent in the medicine cabinet. For more info on this specific spray and research, this is a good video:

      I’ll address your further points – re heart rate – in my reply to Charlie. All my best Fish, hope you’re in good health! Jason.

  2. I am amazed that anyone with ME would want to use cannabis, I mean I know it’s pretty effective at reducing pain, but it also makes one feel spaced out, dizzy, nauseous…. ‘thinking through treacle’ – stoned….- drugged…. brain fog.
    And i already feel like that to begin with.

    20yrs ago I was a heavy user for several yrs, and have described having a bad ‘day’ with ME as feeling like you’ve smoked WAY too much cannabis in one go, with the flu & some pain thrown in, -paralysis, nausea &vomitting, loss of control of limbs, not understanding whats being said to you, not being able to communicate, colours looking wierd, unusual sensory experiences, seeing ‘traces’ etc (an effect colloquially called ‘White Death’) -being completely ‘out of it’, in a very unpleasant way- and sound/sensory input making it worse, and all the nice aspects like giggling and feeling happy are gone when you take too much.
    I already feel drugged most of the time, so i certainly wouldnt go down that route.

    But then not everyone feels like me other people experience ME differently so if you are in a ‘subgroup’ with less cognitive issues and very extreme pain then of course you might feel it helpful, and i can sympathise with that.

    But it could make the situation worse as has been said above, if you already have issues with BP on standing etc. But then thats the case with all drugs isnt it.. illicit or otherwise- half the time they get rid of 1 problem only to create of exascerbate another.
    so on balance i dont know really.

  3. My apologies to all, for some reason I didnt watch the video before commenting… I thought i had watched it on the TV but this is obviously diff than the prog i watched. I am feeling a bit foggy today- well enough to type obviously but not at my best so didnt think to check.

    After watching…
    i am surprised, i never would have thought cannabis would help with ME symptoms, but the guy with ME in the video seems genuine, and perhaps i am wrong… was it the cannabis that enabled him to stand up wilst chatting? cos theres no way i can do that without collapsing. Being able to get better enough to do that is appealing.
    But i still wouldnt ever want to choose it for myself because the psych effects of prolonged use are grim… but… for some people? i dont know? the jury is still out for me.

    It was very courageous of him to go on TV about this though.

    1. Hi Charlie, thank you for the comments. No offence taken I assure, I understand your position.

      I’m Jason from the clip. I also run this blog:

      Plus, I am a council member of the BMCR –

      – I hold a seat alongside Baroness Meacher, Peter Reynolds, Paul Flynn MP and Prof Les Iversen of Oxford (the current head of the government’s ACMD – all roles are non affecting to official capacities).

      And I am now a committee member of CLEAR –

      I first studies cannabis, indirectly, under Dr Lester Grinspoon; Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School U.S.A –

      Sorry for the CV, but wanted to convey that I have some knowledge in the subject and don’t just blindly preach.

      Charlie – May I ask; in your previous use of cannabis, did you know the following:

      THC and CBD ratio?
      Harvesting traits?
      Ingestion method and potency therein?

      Did you use sativas or indicas?

      If you did know the answers to these questions, then I doubt you would hold the view you currently do, this is why I ask.

      Personally speaking, I use indica, high CBD, low thc, vaporised, and with organic based growing media.

      The broad point I make is that cannabis is not a generic substance. You really do have to know the plant to maximise the benefits.

      It is no word of a lie that my life has been handed back to me through cannabis therapy. As you can see, I am quite proactive in my work and campaigning. Cannabis allows me a degree of normality that has been missing for many years.

      I’ve had M.E for 21 years, since the age of 8. It’s been the last few years that have been the best. I whole heartedly advocate cannabis as therapy (especially with M.E) – of course I have to proclaim that I do not encourage or condone the breaking of law by any means.

      Cannabis and M.E work well as the sativa genus is an energetic variant that enables pain relief whilst enabling a day to day function. Indica tends to be reserved for night times medication – ensuring a good night’s sleep. The tailoring of medication is wholly unique and empowering.

      You don’t have to ingest to get high. The brain fog you speak of is (I would assume) simply through not knowing the traits of this encompassing issue. Unlike prescribed painkillers and antidepressants, cannabis can allow cognitive function – and moreover, often improves this.

      To keep this as brief as I can, I will end this post here. I would be only too pleased to speak further or answer any questions if so desired?!

      I would also be only too pleased to delve into the negative aspects that you’ll inevitably read in the press.

      Thank you all for allowing this dialogue, it means a great deal to be able to speak of this.

      Yours, Jason.

  4. hey guys and girls
    i’m not sure if it is ME that i have i’m still going through a lot of testing x-rays MRI scans blood test steroid injections tablets etc…. nothing is working for long if it works at all. i have all the right pains for ME but with pains in my legs and feet as well i am a user of cannabis and i find it to be a help me relax i don’t do enough to get the really woozy feeling, little and often through the day on really bad days but i mainly use it at night time to help me relax and make me sleep deeper i find it helps with my concentration but not good with short term memory and anxiety im not really that good with people but using cannabis helps me move around not pain free but more easily and stress levels become lower i have a very normal bp but do suffer from more minor infections such as kidney/ urine tract infections ear infections chest infections (probably more to do with that im a smoker in process of giving up but been told not to completely give up because of the stress levels) i am only 30 year old and it is really affecting me and my children lives and find that cannabis is helping me to have a move active days with my children

  5. I am compelled to comment on this subject. Cannabis should absolutely be made legal and specifically should be made available to NHS patients.

    Cannabis is the most effective treatment for alleviating symptoms M.E, Fibromyalgia, and many other medical conditions. The current drugs available to treat M.E can have serious side effects and are NOT as effective as cannabis alone. Based on their extensive experience, specialist Doctors who regularly take detailed histories from M.E patients cannot responsibly recommend these treatments over cannabis, based on symptomatic relief reported from cannabis compared to that reported from the legal prescription drugs that are currently at their disposal. However, they cannot recommend cannabis either purely due to the fact that it is illegal in this country. Millions of people use cannabis to great effect worldwide to help with their medical conditions. That is not ‘hippie’ or ‘new age’, it is a FACT.
    This has been researched in the case of Fibromyalgia and studies have shown it to be the case. Research it yourself and find out the truth.

    This link is interesting ( i have not researched further i am afraid but i have no doubt there is validity in the claim and will do so when i can ) :

    Because of a LITTLE thing that is still present ( to my knowledge ) called ‘publication bias’ many scientific studies and data are still of questionable factual value. Non more so than those commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry. In the case of medical drugs, the drug companies essentially pay for research and then ‘pick’ those results ( irrespective of how misleading they are in reality ) that best coincide with their commercial interests. A case in point is the fluoxitine ( prozac ) fiasco, and from it a billion dollar industry.

    The propaganda spread by governments that cannabis is a bad drug is purely due to convenience, ignorance, misinformation and greed. The misinformation is slowly changing but the greed will persist. It is common sense that large pharmaceutical companies do not want people to be able to grow a robust plant in their gardens that would completely remove the need for their largest market.

    I am deeply upset that this UK government persists with the myth that Cannabis has no therapeutic value – that is COMPLETELY UNTRUE and is at odds with what commissioned reports have concluded decade after decade. In fact the very opposite is completely true. All drugs have side effects and can be abused and therefore need to be treated with respect but as touched on in the video above, cannabis is very low on toxicity. It cannot kill you as many UK legal drugs can do if taken in excess unless you drive a car whilst intoxicated ( i.e it is still having an appreciable effect on coordination and response times ) and that would be wrong and is rightly illegal to do so. In moderation it helps with pain, stiffness, headaches, temporarily increases energy levels ( pacing is still essential ), sleep, depression, anxiety and alleviates confusion. If abused it will temporarily lead to rapid tolerance ( as with many legal drugs ) and hence greatly reduce its therapeutic value, and as pointed out by the inspirational Jason Reed ( who posted above ) cannabis is not a single strain of plant. There are different types of cannabis plants with different effects.

    The simple fact is that cannabis ( both in sativa and indica forms ) is the only effective drug therapy for symptomatic treatment of this condition. If you have a gastric ( stomach ) condition, ingesting it may exacerbate the gastric complaint ( make worse ). However, this can be reduced or alleviated by consuming with suitable food / at meal times. If you have bronchitis, vaporising can exacerbate this also, so a mixture of both methods is advisable depending on the severity of the health problems and side effects.

    Sativex is a UK based drug made from isolating THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio from cannabis plants cultivated on an industrial scale in the UK. The UK government allowed this to happen legally years ago. However, sativex is NOT cannabis. It is a combination of two compounds present in cannabis that are thought to be responsible for most of Cannabis’ therapeutic effects. This tells you in no uncertain terms that cannabis as a plant does indeed have therapeutic value, given the lack of toxicity and serious side effects from consuming whole cannabis. There is no getting around that fact. Those against may argue that the long term safety of cannabis has yet to be proven – well so has the long term safety of every new drug made legally available under current legislation and cannabis has been available and used on a trial period in many cultures for thousands of years in some cultures ! The measures put in place to ensure current drug and construction material safety are woefully inadequate in terms of human trial period duration. It would simply take too long and therefore not be cost effective to carry out a definitive trial period – i.e Lifespan after drug consumption / exposure to materials….( remember mesothelioma from asbestos inhalation )

    Sativex is a crude approximation of the active therapeutic ingredients present in cannabis in order to avoid current legislation and is only currently available to those with Multiple Sclerosis who live in the right area or who are wealthy enough to afford its exorbitant cost outright.

    Opioid Based drugs have been shown to be ineffective in controlling M.E and Fibromyalgic pain and can have unacceptable side effects ( most commonly chronic constipation ) in long term use. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs are excluded to those with gastric disease and as already eluded to, the other more specific drugs have a side effect : efficacy ratio that is poor to say the least even in short term use.

    This government ( as many before them ) needed to develop a sense of empathy ( and a basic understanding of human rights ) towards those suffering from chronic debilitating and / or terminal diseases that simply hasn’t occurred despite pre election promises.

    After a year of exhaustive diagnostic tests i have been diagnosed with M.E and Fibromyalgia by a respected specialist in this field. It has been a degenerative pattern of disease thus far to the extent that i am now housebound, need a walking stick to get around the house and am significantly disabled and in pain. I cannot even play with my 5 yr old son most of the time and when i can it is for minutes. I have had this illness for many many years and it has ruined my life. I am significantly physically disabled and unable to do much at all mentally due to exhaustion, confusion and the resultant repercussions that always ensue regardless of pacing and mindfulness. If you have no reserve to do anything at all without repercussions then your baseline activity level is zero and you have no ground to base graded exercise therapy on. Indeed it would be disastrous to attempt it in such a state.

    I appreciate that i have stated the obvious / overly explained things for some educated people and i do not mean to condescend, but simply to explain things in the most clear way that i am able to do with my limited means.

    I leave you with one question. What would the prime minister do ( after he has seen all the eminent specialist doctors in this field ) if he developed severe M.E and / or Fibromyalgia ?

    Thank you.

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