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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Medicinal cannabis legalisation could help treat many diseases

Disease and patient-orientated organisation the MS Society is leading support for a move to legalise medicinal cannabis in the UK.

The House of Commons is soon to consider the Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill 2017-19. It is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West.

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Paul Flynn MP.

The Bill is due to have its second reading debate in two weeks, on Friday 23 February 23. It received its first reading on October 10 last year

In summary. the Bill would allow the production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes; and for connected purposes.

I believe such a move should be welcomed.This is because it would stand to benefit many more people than those with MS. It could potentially help relieve the symptoms of chronic pain, spasticity, and a host of other medical conditions and diseases.

Writing in the UK’s Pharmaceutical Journal, Flynn said: “During my 30 years in parliament I have campaigned against the harm caused by the antidepressant paroxetine and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug rofecoxib; and I now chair a campaign opposed to the growing menace of opioid misuse. But cannabis is a drug that evidence suggests could provide unique relief for many who suffer from the cruel disease MS. The law should not criminalise patients seeking relief from pain and spasm.”

Cannabis can help where other treatments fail

The MS Society is one of the organisations keen to support the Bill. The society’s campaign team says: “For some people with MS, there’s no effective legal treatment for pain and muscle spasms. But many find that cannabis for medicinal use can help when other treatments haven’t. 

cannabis“Right now, cannabis for medicinal use is illegal. We want the UK Government to make it available to people who could benefit.  

“When we asked last year, 72% of people with MS agreed that cannabis should be legalised for medicinal purposes.

“A Bill tabled by Newport West MP Paul Flynn on the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use is scheduled to be discussed in the House of Commons this month on this issue. We need the UK Government to take action.”

The society is also urging its members and supporters to get behind the Bill and take action. It says:

“Please Tweet your MP and ask them to write to the Minister. You’ll be helping to show the UK Government how much support there is for this issue. If you don’t have Twitter, please email your MP instead.

“With your help, we can get closer towards a change in the law.”

Medical Marijuana Inc says medicinal cannabis has “potential as a viable treatment option for helping to manage chronic pain, nausea and spasms, and for providing healing effects for those with serious conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries.”

Its website lists 45 conditions for which, it says, “medical marijuana is now a treatment.”

The sooner that the UK government legalises medicinal cannabis the better.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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MS Society calls for legalisation of medicinal cannabis and dispels 5 myths

Legalise medicinal cannabis is the call of the MS Society as it tries to persuade the UK government to act. And, as part of its campaign, the society is seeking to dispel some popular misconceptions. It has also produced its own report on the use of medicinal cannabis in treating MS.1

Oomsn its website, the society says that with so much information “swirling around the internet”, it’s hard to be sure what’s true and what’s not. That’s why it decided, in its own words, “to bust five common myths about cannabis and MS”.

These are the misconceptions that the society has highlighted:

1. ‘Cannabis for medicinal use’ means any kind of cannabis

This can be confusing, as the media often refers to both licensed cannabis products and the illegal drug as ‘medicinal cannabis’.

What medical professionals usually mean by ‘medicinal cannabis’ or ‘medical cannabis’ is cannabis products licensed as medical treatments. So, for MS, that means Sativex, which is specifically licensed to treat muscle spasms and stiffness in MS. Journalists or other people using the phrase could mean cannabis used for any medical purpose.

We’re calling for the Government to legalise cannabis for two medicinal purposes: to treat pain and spasticity when other treatments haven’t worked.

2. Cannabis has never been legal for medicinal use

This isn’t true. Thanks to the evidence, countries including Germany and Canada have already made cannabis available for medicinal use, and Ireland is considering it.2 This means people in those countries can get it safely on prescription and be confident about the quality and doses of what they’re taking.

We want the UK Government to do the same, so people with MS can treat their symptoms safely.

3. Smoking cannabis is as safe as taking Sativex

medicinalWrong – evidence shows that smoking cannabis can be harmful to people with MS, especially when it’s mixed with tobacco. Unfortunately, smoking has also been shown to speed up how quickly people develop secondary progressive MS.

As cannabis is illegal there’s no guidance about doses or quality either, so you can’t be sure if what you’re smoking is safe.

4. Cannabis is natural, so it’s better than pharma drugs

That’s not how it works. One of the main active ingredients in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is ‘psychoactive’ and can do lots of things – including alter your mind and make you hallucinate. If you or your family have a history of mental health problems (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder), using cannabis can trigger these or make them worse.

5. Cannabidiol (CBD) products will help my MS

CBD is the other active ingredient in cannabis. It’s not psychoactive like THC and has anti-inflammatory, anti-tremor and anti-spasmodic properties.

At the moment, there’s not enough evidence to show that products containing just CBD, like cannabis oils, can help MS symptoms. And currently there are no CBD products licensed to treat MS symptoms.

But the evidence shows that cannabis containing both CBD and THC could work for some people with MS to help with pain and spasms. It is thought that the ratio of THC to CBD determines the level of psychoactive vs. therapeutic effects of cannabis.

That’s why we think the UK Government should change the law to make cannabis available for medicinal use to help people with MS treat pain and muscle spasms, where other treatments have not worked for them.

I have never tried cannabis in any form, so cannot give any recommendation one way or another. However, I have looked into the issue and can say that I’d be prepared to give medicinal cannabis a try.

1 Cannabis and MS – The role of cannabis in treating MS symptoms.

2 The use of cannabis has been legalised in more countries than the society says, as well as some US states.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis clears first hurdle, but will it go further?

Campaigners for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis are this week celebrating a small victory. Legalisation could help people with multiple sclerosis and other diseases but, realistically, there’s little chance it will become law

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Paul Flynn MP.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West and patron of the United Patients Alliance (UPA) presented a 10-Minute Rule Motion in the UK parliament’s House of Commons. Its purpose is to legalise the use of cannabis as a medicine.

UPA supporters, who gathered outside, took delighted when the bill gained its first reading. This is the first step on a long journey of any bill to pass into law.

The UPA aims to make sure everyone who might benefit from cannabis, to improve their quality of life, have access to it without the risk of criminalisation or stigmatisation.

Its website says: “We would see a legal, regulated supply of cannabis for patients so that they can use it safely, with knowledge of strain and dosage and with the best knowledge on healthy modes of intake and ways of medicating with cannabis.”uld see a legal, regulated supply of cannabis for patients so that they can use it safely, with knowledge of strain and dosage and with the best knowledge on healthy modes of intake and ways of medicating with cannabis.

In pursuit of this, the UPA organised a peaceful demonstration outside parliament, in the form of a ‘cannabis tea party’. It highlighted how the drug acts as pain relief for those with chronic and fatal illnesses.

The UK currently bans the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Sativex spray is the only exception.

Across the world, medicinal cannabis, or marijuana, is legal in many places including Canada and Uruguay. It is also legal in a number of states in America as it in some European countries.

Legalising cannabis – intelligent and compassionate

Flynn joined the tea party, and said: “We have to say to the government, for goodness sake, catch up with the rest of the world and allow a responsible legal market to operate to replace a market that’s illegal and dangerous.

cannabis“It’s political cowardice, they’re afraid of being mocked on this, but I’m afraid politicians don’t get credit for acting intelligently. This is the intelligent and compassionate thing to do. The law is an ass.”

Flynn has named his proposal The Elizabeth Brice Bill, named after a multiple sclerosis patient who died in 2011. She has been a long-time campaigner for legalising cannabis for medical purposes and started the UK branch of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. She and Flynn are said to have drunk cannabis tea together, in parliament, many years ago.

The next stage of the lawmaking process is the Second Reading. This has been set for Friday, February 23.

Bills introduced by MPs under the Ten-Minute Rule don’t often progress much further. Most stimulate publicity for, or seek the house’s opinion about, an issue which may later feature in another bill.

However, not all Ten-Minute Rule bills fail. Some do become law. Indeed, since 1945, more than 60 of them have become Acts of Parliament.

Perhaps, one day, UK drug laws may change but don’t expect Paul Flynn’s bill to achieve that. Sadly, there are too many MPs prepared to oppose it.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

 

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