04 Jul Dame Sally’s Caution On “Grown Cannabis” Does Not Bode Well For Access To Herbal Cannabis As Medicine.
Great news all round! Professor Dame Sally Davies has, within a matter of days concluded that cannabis does have medicinal value and needs to be removed from schedule 1. No surprise really as the evidence is, as Dame Sally says, “overwhelming”. The simple fact is that our government has been deliberately ignoring it for years.
However, reading Dame Sally’s report yesterday I was immediately struck by her use of the term “grown cannabis” in a disparaging sense. I’m tempted to ask ‘where else does it come from?’ unless its synthetic and that is my second point of concern. I’m surprised by her apparent enthusiasm for synthetic cannabinoids on which there is precious little clinical research and strong evidence of severe, even life-threatening side effects, totally different from the natural product.
Professor Mike Barnes, CLEAR’s medical advisor, and I discussed the report this morning and while we both welcome it, we’re very concerned that access to raw herbal cannabis, specifically the Bedrocan product range, may continue to be refused.
In everything that I have learned over more than 30 years and great deal of practical experience working with patients, vaporised herbal cannabis is the gold standard for safety and efficacy. Bedrocan products are available in almost every other country in Europe. They can be prescribed and dispensed in the UK tomorrow and if this route is denied to patients there will be uproar. This is what patients want and need.
I defer to Mike Barnes in his expertise on the evidence but he agrees with me that vaporised herbal cannabis must be fundamental to the new arrangements. Oils are obviously more suitable for children and some conditions in adults but children will not be the majority of patients needing access and the pharmacology and titration of cannabis when taken orally is very different and nowhere near as effective.
It would suit the medical establishment and the continuing, moralistic, prohibitionst lobby if cannabis for medicine was all about products which are “derived from” or “based on”, not the dried flowers from the plant which is what we must have if this reform is to succeed. If so, this will mean that many, perhaps most, people will prefer to continue in the illegal market and that, in my view, would be a failure of this process that we are now engaged in.