Cannabis is a herb, a flowering plant. Anyone with a keen eye can see that cannabis behaves and grows like many other plants and flowers. Recently, in the last hundred years or so, cannabis has been given a very bad press, with great government and media attention. However, cannabis has been known to be a medicine for thousands of years with many ancient civilizations writing about its medicinal properties. The debate about the medical use of cannabis, currently a hot topic across the globe, has already been won, and there is a prolific amount of information about the medical use of cannabis all over the internet. You only need to type in cannabis and insert ailment here to find scientific-reviewed studies and anecdotal evidence from patients about cannabis can alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
When talking with people, I often find support for medical cannabis; people generally agree that if cannabis can help someone with an illness then they should be allowed to use it. Saying that everyone should be allowed to use cannabis, however, is more of a touchy subject, with many people who are supportive of medical cannabis being less supportive of healthy people using cannabis. I personally find this very strange, and wonder why it is seen as more acceptable to use cannabis if you are ill then if you are healthy.
Cannabis can be used by healthy people as a preventative medicine, and in later articles I will look at its impact on the development of different illnesses. Healthy people often do experience “mundane” health problems like pain, headaches, tiredness and menstrual cramps. Cannabis can be used to alleviate pain in a similar way to how a person would use aspirin or other over-the-counter medicines. It could be argued that this is in fact a safer alternative to aspirin, as cannabis is impossible to overdose on no matter how much of it you take.
While it may be true that aspirin does not get you high, cannabinoids like CBD do not get people high either, and could be used as a safer alternative to aspirin. When it comes to getting high, some people use the fact that cannabis is an intoxicating substance as a justification for continuing cannabis prohibition. These very same people often will drink socially and have no problem with the use of strong opiates under medical supervision. Which is quite illogical as both alcohol and opiates have an intoxicating effect, so why should someone be put in prison for their choice of using cannabis instead?
When talking about cannabis as a medicine, I believe it is important to make the point that many healthy people, not just people with long-term health problems, can gain a positive effect from using cannabis. It is really only the current law and stigma which have a negative effect. Cannabis has never killed anyone, but the police certainly have. It is about time that the government legislated to allow people to use cannabis responsibly.
In my next post for the Re:Vision blog, I will talk more in-depth about medicinal cannabis use and the potential for people to benefit from its healing effects: focusing on comparing cannabis with the alternatives that are currently available.
Clark French is a MS patient and a founding Member of NORML UK. He maintains his own blog that you can read here.