Thursday 3 November 2016

The Cannabis Dilemma

A British government study has concluded that CBD oil - a chemical compound found in cannabis - can be used with great effect for medical purposes. Most importantly, it does not contain THC which is the psychoactive substance so therefore does not produce a 'high' for the user.

This news about how cannabis oil can benefit patients with a variety of ailments is nothing new. Many medical professionals have argued for years that marijuana extract has a number of beneficial medical effects.

The news that they can now separate the 'medicinal' part from the 'high' part of cannabis is ground-breaking though.

In fact, a company called MediPen already produce and sell a CBD oil vaporiser in an e-cigarette format. Jordan Owen. the managing director of MediPen told The Independent that the company has "...worked hard to obtain our goal of breaking down the negative connotations surrounding cannabis to lead to a reform in the law for medicinal use…now this is finally becoming a reality."

On the face of it, it looks like good news.

But here's the problem.

There are a lot of myths about cannabis, its benefits, and its uses.

Many people - and not just young people - believe cannabis to be a 'soft' drug, much less harmful than alcohol. Many people, including many high profile and eminent people, campaign for cannabis to be made legal claiming these very reasons.

They are wrong.

Cannabis is a dangerous drug. It is rightly illegal and should remain so. Cannabis is a 'stepping stone' drug to harder drugs.

Need proof?

I do voluntary work with addicts every day and I have almost two decades of experience in this field. I have never, repeat NEVER met a drug addict who did not begin his drug taking life in a nonchalant manner by taking a little bit of the ole 'wacky baccy'.


In the interests of balance, I should also mention that I have also met a few people who have taken cannabis on a regular basis and have never progressed to any harder drugs. Good for them. They're the lucky ones.

But make no bones about it, just because YOU have never experienced the horrendous results that many others experience from cannabis use, that does NOT make a case for it to be decriminalised. Just thank your lucky stars that you have been able to use it with relative impunity and stop being so selfish, uncaring and ignoring to the damage this dangerous drug does to others.

Doctors train for years to understand drugs and their effects on human beings. That's why a drug which works for one patient can give horrendous side effects to another patient. Doctors are professionals who are trained to spot this type of thing and every day in their surgeries they alter the drugs they prescribe from person to person for this very reason.

Not every person reacts the same to any given drug, so this fact MUST be taken in to account when we talk about cannabis.

And that brings us to the medical benefits of cannabis and the question of whether doctors should be allowed to prescribe it.

I believe that our medical doctors - who are highly trained to administer drugs in a very controlled and professional way - should be allowed to prescribe cannabis when and where they see fit.

So in my opinion, we must make cannabis legal for medical use but keep it illegal for any other type of use.

This shouldn't be a problem as such. Most drugs that doctors give to patients are only available on prescription anyway and are not available legally over the counter. So most drugs are, in fact, legal to prescribe but illegal to buy or use in any other way.

However this is where the cannabis dilemma comes in.

You see, if the government decriminalise cannabis it sends a message to the public that the drug is safe.

And that would be a wrong message to send out to the public because cannabis is most definitely NOT safe.

With ever increasing drug problems in our communities - especially among our young folk - sending a message that this stepping stone drug is safe is not a good idea, especially when it has been proved time and time again that it often leads to harder drug use.

I really don't know what the answer to this dilemma is. I truly don't.

But what I do know is that our government needs to get it's thinking cap on and deal with this problem in a much more informed and responsible way because if they get it wrong, the results will be disastrous for public health.

Many members of the public with a variety of medical ailments will benefit greatly from cannabis if it is legalised and their doctors are allowed to prescribe it.

But a lot more of our young people will become addicted to harder drugs and it'll happen to them a lot quicker if cannabis is legalised and they think it's safe to take it.

Let's have a proper debate about this where both sides can at least accept each others perfectly valid arguments about this drug.