Calls for medicinal cannabis to be legalised for pain relief | features man with ME | ITV Central News, 16 September 2014.

September 17, 2014


Report on ITV Central News, 16 September 2014 (see recording below).

He's been threatened, his home has been attacked, and he lives in fear of going to jail for possession of cannabis.

But he says he has no choice.

He suffers from ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and he spoke exclusively with ITV News Central to describe how being denied legal cannabis-based medication has meant he is forced to turn to the streets for his pain relief.

It comes as the government's Crime Prevention Minister called for medicinal cannabis to be legalised – telling ITV News Central he believes it is wrong to deny people a product which could help.

See the full report from Charlotte Cross here:

Home Office Minister Norman Baker told ITV News Central that he had spoken to people suffering from conditions including cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis who all said they used cannabis as they could not find any other medication which worked.

He said he had written to the Department of Health to ask them to consider the issue, and wanted a cross-party review:

It's been quite clear to me for some time, as the government's drugs minister, that there is a case for making available more easily cannabis-based products to help particular medicinal conditions.
 
I think it's wrong that we're actually preventing people having access to something which will help their health, and in the process potentially criminalising them for obtaining it.

The ME patient, who struggles to walk much of the time, told ITV News Central he has repeatedly tried – and failed – to get his local NHS trust to pay for Sativex, which is the government's first legal, licensed cannabis-based medication.

So now, he said, he regularly has to trawl the back streets of Birmingham and deal with violent crooks to get something which helps.

I have to go crawling the back streets late at night, dealing with gangs to buy small bags of weed off them. And sometimes it's not very nice, and I get very very scared and feel intimidated.
 
I do feel awful about the illegal side of it, and I worry about it all the time, because it's not nice to be breaking the law. But what choice do you have when you're so ill?
 
I don't know what magic ingredient there is in cannabis, but it's how I get through my day. And just trying to survive and manage my illness makes me a criminal. It's absolutely absurd.

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While Sativex is usually prescribed for people with multiple sclerosis, health bosses have said it can be used for other conditions including ME – but only if local NHS trusts decide to fund it.

A spokesman for Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group said they could not comment specifically on individual cases, but added:

Sativex is not routinely commissioned for the treatment of ME, however clinicians can apply for funding of a treatment if they can demonstrate exceptional medical circumstances for a patient.

A Home Office spokeswoman said there were “no plans” to review how cannabis is classified.

This government has no plans to legalise cannabis or to soften our approach to its use as a medicine.

A Home Office spokeswoman said there were “no plans” to review how cannabis is classified.

This government has no plans to legalise cannabis or to soften our approach to its use as a medicine.
 
There is clear scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people's mental and physical health.
 
Our cross-government strategy on drugs remains clear. We must prevent drug use in our communities, support users through treatment and wider recovery and ensure law enforcement agencies tackle the organised criminals behind the drugs trade.

And a spokeswoman for the MHRA – the body responsible for licensing new medicines – said they could not confirm or deny whether there were any other applications in place for cannabis-based medication due to “commercial sensitivity”.

1 thought on “Calls for medicinal cannabis to be legalised for pain relief | features man with ME | ITV Central News, 16 September 2014.”

  1. Medical Cannabis ( not Sativex ) should be legally prescribed on the NHS in the U.K.

    To withhold suitable medicine from those in need is both unethical and unevolved and it is also a great shame that the medical community have been ( and are in general still ) so complacent with regards to getting effective medicine for M.E patients.

    The recent discussion and its outcome by the BMA in Harrogate on the subject of cannabis just highlights the ignorance, apathy and lack of empathy towards those in medical need. There is no rational or scientific reason to reject legalising medical cannabis in the U.K. The reasoning behind the rejection appears to be based on some studies that suggest cannabis may be harmful. This in reality is merely an acknowledgement that cannabis can have side effects as can any other drug. There can be no rational debate on cannabis and its impact on health until it is legalised. Then we may be able to implement some meaningful and properly funded research into cannabis. To this day there is no conclusive evidence on the long term health effects of cannabis to the best of my knowledge. What ‘evidence’ i have read appears to be either non conclusive, poorly implemented, poorly funded or based on political justification and bias. This is very damaging for the prospects of medical patients ever actually getting the treatment they need. The most efficient way of using the drug appears to be vaporisation but there are still no conclusive studies to show whether even smoking cannabis is carcinogenic to the respiratory system.

    M.E patients are one of the last group of chronic disease sufferers able to fight their cause and because of this they have been left out in the cold to suffer.

    Sativex is not a particularly suitable substitute for natural cannabis as a treatment for M.E for two main reasons.
    Firstly, Sativex contains alcohol and it is noted that M.E patients can and do have an intolerance to alcohol ( this can be a marked effect even to small quantities ). Secondly, Sativex contains a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD. Whilst this higher CBD concentration may improve sleep onset and duration at night ( if it is not made worse by the alcohol ! ) , it is not a suitable ratio for daytime treatment of M.E. THC is believed to be stimulatory, whilst CBD counterbalances this. A higher ratio of THC to CBD would be more suitable for M.E patients for daytime use. Cannabis Sativa naturally contains this higher ratio of THC to CBD and is therefore suitable for daytime treatment of M.E. Alcohol is not essential for the preparation of medical cannabis – it would just be far easier and cheaper to prepare it as an alcohol tincture as opposed to other methods of oral delivery, hence Sativex. Alcohol is not a medicine, it is however a carcinogen. The exorbitant cost of Sativex should in theory mean that archaic methods of delivery such as alcohol are not used, alas this has not occurred.

    Medical Cannabis will not cure M.E and it will not reduce the necessity to pace ones self but it will alleviate some very distressing symptoms and for this reason alone should be legally available for the 240 000 or so individuals in the U.K alone who are believed to suffer from this debilitating chronic disease. Research is essential but so is legal effective medicine without unacceptable side effects NOW for all those suffering. This is simply not happening in the U.K and is something the M.E association should be fighting towards, for all those who are too ill to do it themselves. A lack of knowledge on the subject because cannabis is currently illegal is not a reason to ignore the therapeutic effects of the drug.

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