Although cannabis has been proven to treat a number of conditions, there are still those that remain sceptical or even adamant, claiming that cannabis is incredibly dangerous to people’s health.
It is incredibly difficult in the United Kingdom to kick-start a serious and balanced discussion regarding cannabis because the government seems to dismiss the evidence that has been presented.
This is certainly the case back in 2009, when the then Home Secretary, Alan Johnson fired the government’s chief drug adviser, Professor David Nutt, following a published paper which claimed that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than illegal drugs, such as LSD and cannabis.
Alan Johnson was reported to have sent a letter stating
“We remain determined to crack down on all illegal substances and minimise their harm to health and society as a whole.”
This frivolous rejection of the evidence presented by Professor Nutt, illustrates this argument clearly, and that any and all contradictions to the current law are met with force, due to the finding not being that which Johnson had intended. Alan Johnson’s comments mean that cannabis remains illegal because of the apparent health concerns that it has on the general public.
Why is it then, that there have been a number of studies which have found pot to be a more effective and safer alternative to conventional treatments?
Currently, the available treatment for cancer patients in the UK have been shown to be incredibly dangerous, with poisonous chemotherapy which has been known to kill patients, and radiotherapy, where patients are bombarded with radiation. These treatments have been known to cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, and the loss of hair, which does not affect the health of the patient, but can bring about psychological distress and a resentment of their own appearance.
Both Harvard Medical School and the Institute of Toxicology have found that cannabis can restrict and stop the epithelial growth and can inhibit the invasion and spreading of cancer cells. This is because of the cannabinoids within cannabis, which can also be found in the human body.
Cannabis does not just prevent and treat lung cancer; it also does the same for prostate cancer, Brain cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, cancer of the blood and many more. The safer alternative is there which would also mean that patients would be able to keep a healthy diet alongside treatment, instead of wasting away in their own frailty.
Multiple Sclerosis, a severed neurological condition which impacts around 100,000 people in the UK has been found to be treatable with the use of marijuana. There are a number of different treatments for multiple sclerosis depending on your symptoms, as the disease has a wide spectrum of affects. The treatments have been found to be effective, however may incur some side effects.
It is reported that around 10% of patients who take the drug, Copaxone, experience the feeling of their chest tightening and increased heart rate.
Dr John Ratchford of the John Hopkins School of Medicine has commented that – ‘Though this reaction might feel like a heart attack, it isn’t. The feeling should go away within fifteen minutes without causing any long-term problems.’
Although these effect occur to only 10% of patience, it is still an un-necessary sensation that these patients endure, regardless of it being a fifteen minute long feeling of a heart-attack, which sounds awful. These side-effects may occur for only fifteen minutes; there is no mention as to how many times this occurs on a daily basis.
Cannabis has been stated in both studies and anecdotal accounts, that it has assisted in the reduction of spasticity and tremors. These have been carried out by physicians who have examined and confirmed that patients have improved with cannabis use, albeit temporally. The pain relieving aspects of cannabis also stops the patients from being in pain, or having itches and vomiting, which other treatments can bring on.
There are those conditions which the effects are not visible, and so have often received criticism from the public who do not view them as being serious conditions. You need only turn to ADHD to hear of people who claim that there is no such thing, or that it wasn’t around when they were growing up (Like so many other conditions before they were discovered)
It has been proven; however, that pot can indeed treat disorders such as ADHD and insomnia, which both have received a pretty bad press. Current treatments for insomnia patients come with a triple whammy of side effects, namely depression, addiction, and the risk of overdosing. These three can be seen to be intrinsically linked to one and other in an incredibly cruel and vicious cycle. Marijuana has a relaxing effect, and can encourage the user to dose off into a somewhat natural sleep.
ADHD is commonly treated by drugs such as Dexdrine, Adderall, Vyvance, and Ritalin. These substances have been shown to cause nausea, insomnia, and lack of appetite.
The use of cannabis in the treatment of ADHD can result in a reduction of anxiety and anger which brings patients into a more relaxed state of being, where there have been documented cases where patients become calmer and so are able to focus on certain task more.
There are countless more conditions which cannabis has been proven to treat if not cure, and it is important that the powers that be are aware of the staggering amount of work that has been carried out in this field. Alan Johnson’s dismissal of Professor Nutt in 2009 clearly shows that illegalisation is much more of harm to health and society, then if it were legalised. The United States has begun to wake up to these benefits, whilst we are still ignoring them point-blank. Cannabis is a safer alternative to conventional treatment, and can be taken in a variety of ways which does not require smoking.
The price of medicine seems to be a priority when it comes to laws which allow citizens to self-medicate.
By Anthony Rodden