13 Nov What Is The Matter With Doctors About The Use Of Cannabis As Medicine?
In the UK, most doctors, and the medical profession as a whole, are ignorant and bigoted about cannabis.
Their ignorance is not entirely their own fault. For 50-odd years, since cannabis tincture was last available from UK pharmacies, they have been subject to the same relentless tide of propaganda from the Home Office, successive governments, the tabloid press and rabble-rousing politicians as the rest of society. Many still regard cannabis as a dangerous drug consumed by degenerates that almost inevitably leads to mental illness. The idea that it could be a safe and effective medicine which offers real benefits in a wide range of conditions is regarded as laughable.
However, there is no excuse for such laziness amongst a profession that regards itself as scientific. And this is the charge – indolence, carelessness and laziness – that needs to be laid at those doctors at NHS England, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurologists Association, that are responsible for the disgraceful ‘guidelines’ published two weeks ago.
Throughout Europe, Israel, Canada and the USA there are thousands of doctors who have made the effort to learn about cannabinoid medicine. They have had to make extraordinary effort to do because even the most basic science is still rarely taught. The endocannabinoid system is on the syllabus of very few medical schools, anywhere in the world, despite the fact we now know that it is the largest neurotransmitter network in the body and affects almost every aspect of our health and all medical conditions. This is a dreadful indictment of the medical establishment but particularly of doctors in the UK, very few of whom have made any effort at all.
So while, to a degree, the ignorance can be forgiven, the bigotry cannot. It is cowardice. These doctors prefer to cover their own backs, protect themselves and prefer an absurd level of caution to doing what is in their patients’ best interests. The incredibly low risk attached to cannabis in any form, at any age and particularly when under medical supervision, is simply overlooked.
Yes, the medical profession is known to be ‘conservative’ but in the case of cannabis this is an excuse. Yes, we live in an increasingly litigious society but any truly professional doctor would not be cowed by such fear when the evidence is widely available, if they could be bothered to look. And what is this ‘conservatism’ of? Modern medicine is barely a century old. It is new in the history of our species and while the reductionist approach has brought great benefit and made huge advances, it is at the expense of thousands of years of human experience which has been dismissed as valueless.
These doctors may feel that the reforms have been foisted on them with no consultation and little notice but this is not a political game, it affects the lives of millions, from the youngest baby to the oldest, most senior citizens. These doctors are failing in their professional duty. For too long they have enjoyed being regarded with ultimate respect, rarely being questioned or challenged by their patients but those days are gone. Most of the population is now far better informed than ever before, largely because of the internet and although this may cause doctors some problems, they have to learn to live with it. They have to respect their patients, parents and carers and recognise more than ever before that healthcare is about co-operation, about working together. They have to come down from their ivory towers and start delivering truly patient-centred medicine.