When it comes to drug addiction, most people think about substances such as heroin or cocaine. Some even consider strong opioid prescription drugs, but most do not think about cannabis. Although cannabis addiction is a very real illness for some individuals, many believe that it is not an addictive substance and that it should be legalised. Others, of course, disagree.
According to the all-party group reviewing drug policies, cannabis is a substance that should be legally available on prescription. The group has made this statement after a seven-month study into the effects of cannabis as a medical treatment and co-chair of the group, Baroness Molly Meacher, said, “Cannabis works as a medicine for a number of medical conditions. The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a growing number of countries and some US states to legalise access to medical cannabis. Against this background, the UK scheduling of cannabis as a substance that has no medical value is irrational.”
Here in the UK, cannabis is classified as an illegal Class B drug, which means that it is illegal to possess, sell or give away. Those found in possession could face up to five years in prison, even if the drug were for personal use.
Supplying cannabis to another person can result in an unlimited fine and up to fourteen years behind bars, even if you were just giving the drug to a friend for free. Although the law states that these punishments are applicable, the punishment for possession of cannabis is rarely that severe. In most instances, police will issue a warning, but some police forces have admitted that they will no longer be pursuing those in possession of the drug for personal use.
While there are many in favour of changing the law and making cannabis available as a treatment for a number of conditions, other experts are worried about those who already have a cannabis addiction as well as those who could be susceptible to developing one.
Dr Robert Lefever is an addiction specialist and former GP who believes that although cannabis should be used as a treatment, there are a number of downsides to consider. He said, “Not everybody who uses cannabis is addicted to it, but some are, and these are the people I’m concerned for. We shouldn’t use cannabis as a cure-all. Cannabis specifically damages mood, memory and motivation, and that’s not helpful. If the Government is going to legalise medicinal use, it needs to be aware of people who would take it, if they possibly could, for any reason.”
Many have long been calling for cannabis to be made legal for treating various conditions; Jay Denton is one of them. The multiple sclerosis sufferer is using cannabis to treat the symptoms of her illness; currently, she is being forced to buy the substance from a dealer. However, she believes that cannabis should be available to her on prescription. She stated, “Out of all of the therapies I’ve done, cannabis is the cheapest and probably costs me about £20 to £25 a month. Being able to take away the criminality in medical cannabis will mean that I don’t have to be concerned about sharing my experiences with other people.”
She also pointed out that she does not like having to break the law, saying, “I’m a law-abiding person, I don’t like breaking the law. If it wasn’t helping so much, I wouldn’t be touching it. It’s vital that we get to a situation where we catch up with a lot of countries around the world that are saying ‘we can see the benefits of this’.”
She believes that for some people, medical cannabis could be a lifesaver that allows them to enjoy their lives, instead of just existing.
The idea of legal cannabis for treating various conditions may sound appealing to those who suffer from these illnesses, but there are concerns about cannabis addiction. Contrary to popular belief, some individuals do indeed become hooked on cannabis and may find it difficult to stay away from the drug, even if it is causing problems in their lives.
Some regular users will develop a physical dependence on it, meaning that when they stop using, they will experience a variety of unpleasant side effects that can include mood swings, nausea, difficulty sleeping, irritability, sweating, loss of appetite, shaking and diarrhoea. There is also the risk of illnesses such as lung disease in those who take the drug with nicotine.
Individuals who have a cannabis addiction may need to complete a programme of detoxification and rehabilitation if they want to quit. It is understandable that some people will still have concerns regarding the use of cannabis as a medical treatment, but many experts believe the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives for some patients.
Source: MPs urge Government to legalise medical cannabis in the UK (SkyNews)
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