While many of us recreational users may bemoan how hard life is when it comes to the legality of cannabis, spare a thought for those who rely on the plant to ease their pain and the symptoms of their very serious conditions. Cannabis can be used to treat a variety of things, from cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autism/ADHD, to even chronic back or period pains. It’s a panacea unlike no other. Unfortunately, as we well know, the law struggles to give two shits about the benefits, and we’re left with a feeble medical cannabis provision in the UK.
This isn’t news to those of us who’ve followed the cannabis legalisation movement closely, but perhaps being irresistibly vocal about the topic is something novel, which might at least enlighten some minds and slightly nudge those in power over to our way of thinking. I’ve taken the liberty of mocking-up an e-mail which I’m going to send to my local MP, along with some prominent supporters of ours, such as Caroline Lucas MP, who authored a petition calling for a review of drug policy.
I’ve been meaning to organise a systematic approach to contacting our Parliamentary representatives (organising a day every week when we all e-mail them, and co-ordinate answers to their replies), and having read this article today, I thought this was a good spur to start doing so. If you’d like to use all or any part of this e-mail in your correspondence, please head over to the Write To Them website, and let your MP know how important an issue this is, and stay tuned for much, much more to come.
I wonder if I could get your backing and perhaps even advice on an issue very dear to me? The issue is that of medical cannabis patients in the UK. As you may well be aware, we have the situation of doctors being able to prescribe Sativex (a complete cannabis extract suspended in alcohol) for a very limited set of ailments; ignoring the vast majority of conditions for which the plant is useful.
The lack of broad ailment coverage aside, there are real issues even for those whose doctors have agreed they desperately need cannabis medication. For not only do they have to use a substance more dangerous and less well tolerated than the raw plant, but their local primary care trust can, and typically does, refuse to pay the extortionate £20,000 (per person, per annum) cost of a Sativex prescription; leaving the patient without their medication, or forced to use more dangerous, less effective (legal) alternatives.
Now, this would seemingly leave the door open for them to grow their own medicine, but even with a doctor’s official backing, it’s still considered illegal. The government will only tolerate medical use of cannabis if patients are prepared to purchase their medicine from a large pharmaceutical company, at inflated prices. This is truly one of the strangest elements of our drug policy. A verified need that’s not allowed to be met, while somebody has to suffer in pain, or may even be bed-ridden, and therefore a burden on society. They would happily grow their own, at no cost to the nation, but presently the only option is for the taxpayer to fund huge profits for GW Pharmaceuticals, or for the patient to engage in ‘criminal’ activity.
Who benefits from this arrangement? The NHS loses, individuals lose, those who pay their taxes lose. I can only see a corporation making huge sums of money. I wonder if perhaps this isn’t done to defend the current illegality of the plant? The idea being that if it’s branded and sold in bottles nobody will realise that it is indeed an extract from the entire plant, and has roughly 3x the THC of the strongest, most (incorrectly) vilified strains of cannabis. I can see how this would undermine the government’s stance on drugs, but when an impasse is reached, I would suggest that the immutable stance of legality should be challenged, rather than punishing those in society who seek merely to alleviate their pain, and have a better quality of life as they struggle with their condition.
If you’re interested in precisely how cannabis can help good, decent people to bear the hardships life has thrown their way, please take a look at some of the testimonials available on the following website. Try to imagine these people are your loved ones, and how you’d feel about such a predicament facing them, as they aim to cope with the hand they’ve been dealt.
I look forward to your response and hope that you might lend support to allowing medical patients to grow their own cannabis. There has to be little more desperate than to have the choice between being in pain or being a criminal, and a little compassion would genuinely make a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people in this country. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you will support change.