The Daily Mail published an article by Mike Barnes, honorary professor of neurological rehabilitation at Newcastle University: ‘Why cannabis SHOULD be prescribed to patients’. The drug can help with conditions from chronic pain to cancer – with few side effects, the leading doctor says.
Barnes says cannabis has been linked to poor motivation, schizophrenia and paranoia, but is actually a very effective drug. It should be legalized to help people in pain. There is an estimate of three million people in the UK using cannabis. One million of them use it for medicinal reasons. Currently, these people are forced to use it illegally.
In the US states where cannabis has been legalized, more than 1.2 million patients use prescribed medical marijuana.
A wide range of uses
The main reason the professor wants cannabis to be legalized for medical use is because he believes the drug can help treat conditions from chronic pain to cancer. He has been working on the management of spasticity, a condition caused by muscles becoming stiff and painful, interfering with movement and speech.
In an article in the The Hippocratic Post he says that legalization would allow accurate studies to be carried out so that the benefits and harms of the drug could be quantified
If it were legal, it would allow the products to be regulated, minimizing the risks associated with obtaining it illegally.
As a long-term advocate of the legalization of cannabis for medical use, he says there is sufficient evidence to argue that cannabis is effective in the treatment of a variety of conditions of which spasticity is one. Sativex, a cannabis product – it is prescribed legally to patients with multiple sclerosis if their spasticity has become resistant to other drugs. It also improves bladder control in MS patients.
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Doctor prefers CBD as a treatment because it has fewer side-effects
From his experience, Barnes says that CBD for neuropathic pain works, particularly in the treatment of pain not associated with cancer and neuropathic pain caused by damage to the brain or nervous system. He says cannabinoids have great benefits to offer.
Other conditions in which evidence show cannabis is useful include managing nausea in chemotherapy treatment and to improve sleep among those suffering from sleep disorders. It is also used to stimulate appetite in conditions that cause acute weight loss such as HIV.
Particularly good evidence of CBD as a treatment is shown in a type of childhood epilepsy, Dravet’s syndrome, where sufferers became resistant to other drugs. There is evidence of efficacy in fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by muscle pain and stiffness, and rheumatoid arthritis, causing inflamed and painful joints.
It has also been useful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, migraine, glaucoma, when pressure builds up in the eye, affecting sight, and some forms of dystonia – the medical name for muscle spasms and contractions. Cannabidiol (CBD), a component of natural cannabis also has anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic properties, says Barnes.
Cannabis has few side effects
It is also fortunate that cannabis has very few side effects and the ones it does trigger are mild enough for most patients to tolerate them. When using THC, patients might experience dizziness, a dry mouth, fatigue, sometimes nausea and some balance difficulties. Of course if a variety is used containing high THC (psycho-active component) levels, the ‘high’ recreational users seek, will be experienced.
Only 10 percent of people using medical marijuana have troublesome side effects. Less than 1 per cent of patients drop out of cannabis studies in comparison to the 33 per cent drop-out rate in opioid studies.