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Is Cannabis the answer medicine has been looking for?

Cannabis has been known to humans for thousands of years, with early reports suggesting it was first used in China over four-thousand-years ago. However, the politicisation and stigma surrounding the drug is now holding thousands back from effective medical treatment in 2022.

It is illegal to germinate cannabis seeds in the UK, unless the Home Office has granted a permit for the commercial growth of cannabis. Medical Cannabis that would be grown commercially, was approved in November 2018. Between November 2018 and March 2020, only 12 NHS prescriptions were handed out for Medical Cannabis despite strong patient demand.

Peter, a supermarket worker from Leeds, has a disabled wife who uses the plant to de-stress and relieve her pain. He said “My wife is disabled. She has chronic pain and mental health problems every day, she’s in a wheelchair and has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The prescribed drugs she uses help, but cannabis gives her that extra breathing room away from her pains. For a long time we had to go to someone to get it, but we’ve since got our own plant that we use for her as its cheaper. She swears by it!”

According to the Centre for Medical Cannabis 1.4million people use “illicit cannabis for medical problems.” There is clearly a patient demand for the plant to be made available through medicinal means, famously made available in the United States for medicinal and recreational purposes, but continues to be policed.

The decriminalisation of cannabis is said to be worth anywhere between £1billion to £3billion, and would relieve the police and judiciary system of hours of work that can be spent elsewhere for public services. Work is ongoing across the country with discussions taking place about the decriminalisation of certain drugs, including cannabis, but the process is slow. Sadiq Khan, Labour Mayor of London, promised to launch a commission to investigate the possible benefits of decriminalising the class B drug after being re-elected, but it could be many years before people like Peter and his wife receive the news they’re looking for.

What do you think?