Despite a recent change in legislation surrounding cannabis-derived medicine, and the general support of the British public, guidelines put in place by public health services are restricting its use. This could be leading to millions of Brits being unable to receive cannabis-derived medicine to treat chronic illnesses.
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia, and the fact that it was only made illegal in recent history made us wonder how the British public felt about the use of cannabis for medicinal reasons.
We asked 2000 members of the public what they thought about cannabis-derived medicine and the response was overwhelmingly positive, with 77% of people supporting its use for chronic and other illnesses.
A further 18% of people said that more research is needed on the subject, while only 5% outright opposed the use of cannabis-derived medicine. This heavy weighting in the favour of cannabis-derived medicine is due, in part, to developments in the public opinion and legal status of cannabis across the world, with 33% of people saying their opinion has been changed due to events in recent years.
CBD oil and other cannabis-derived medication has been proven to be useful in relieving the symptoms and pain caused by a range of illnesses, both chronic and acute, way beyond what the Department of Health has authorised its use for.
The recently discovered endocannabinoid system has given scientists firm evidence of why cannabis has been both administered and self-administered, despite its prohibition over its long history of medicinal use.
The Journal for Opioid Management tells us that:
“Endocannabinoids appear to control pain, muscle tone, mood state, appetite, and inflammation, among other effects… Cannabis contains more than 100 different cannabinoids”
In 1971 the UK government prohibited the use of medicinal cannabis, much like the US government who did so against the advice of the National Institute of Health, the Institute of Medicine, and the American College of Physicians.
After 47 years of prohibition in the UK and prompted by the parents of severely epileptic children like Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, who appealed publicly for the law to be reviewed, clinicians were given back the power to administer cannabis-derived medicine on the 1st of November 2018.
But despite the evidence for its medicinal properties and the long battle for a change in law, recent government legislation has not made a significant difference. Not to Alfie Dingley, or to an estimated 20 million British people with chronic illnesses who could benefit from cannabis-derived medicine as treatment.
The change in legislation hasn’t had as positive an effect as expected due to doctors’ hesitance to prescribe cannabis-derived medicine.
Despite the evidence of its effectiveness and governmental permission given for its lawful use, guidelines on when cannabis-derived medicine should be prescribed, published by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association, remain too restrictive.
These guidelines allow clinicians to prescribe only certain cannabis derived medicines and only for severe forms of epilepsy, muscle stiffness caused by MS, and nausea from chemotherapy.
And even when patients suffering from these conditions are able to successfully obtain a prescription, those suffering from the effects of chronic illnesses such as Arthritis, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, migraines, and PTSD have no chance of access to a prescription.
7-year-old Alfie Dingley, whose circumstances created public outcry, was granted a temporary licence for cannabis-derived medicine in June, but this licence was revoked when the law came into effect. Alfie’s mother revealed she couldn’t find an NHS doctor who would grant him his medication.
Although Alfie’s prescription has since been reinstated, in a new petition urging the Department for Health to review the medical cannabis legislation, Alfie’s mother says, ‘They have made the guidelines so restrictive that it’s not just Alfie who can’t get access, almost no-one who needs medical cannabis is being given it’.
The petition has already attracted almost 500,000 signatures.
Last updated: Tuesday 05th March 2019