DDN October 2020 ‘We have a unique role in breaking county lines’ | Page 12


We need to talk abou

The curse of COVID

makes writing about substance misuse treatment virtually impossible . Not only has localism fractured treatment policy and practice over the years , but now COVID has completely overshadowed everything . Who knows what ’ s going to come out the other end ? We ’ re seeing society unalterably changed and it ’ s happening at breakneck speed . Only a fool would claim to have an overview of this chaos and although I ’ ve been called many things , ‘ fool ’ was never one of them – yet , anyway .
Nil desperandum though , guys . There are some things that are so large that whatever happens with COVID they will make a significant impact on arrival , and one of those is medical marijuana .
Medical marijuana is the use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives for their healing properties . These medicinal effects aren ’ t exactly hot news .
While it may be nominally legal , medical marijuana needs to be far more easily available and its use encouraged by treatment services , says Nick Goldstein
In fact we ’ ve been using medical marijuana for thousands of years – it ’ s mentioned in Chinese medical texts from around three thousand years before Christ put in an appearance . The list of ailments it can alleviate and treat is far too long to get into here but it includes many serious conditions and illnesses that really have no other treatments . Medical marijuana ’ s benefits are great enough for its use to be an accepted treatment in many countries – despite the demonisation and prohibition of cannabis for decades – and even America has seen the light and offers medical marijuana as a treatment choice .
For those who ’ ve been living in a dark cave , marijuana was made available on prescription in the UK in November 2018 . But before we all rush off to the doctor ’ s I should point out that – as is sadly far too often the case – our medical profession wimped out . I guess after all those years at medical school they ’ re reluctant to risk the ire of the tabloids and the BMA disciplinary
Marijuana offers a much safer alternative than central nervous system depressants for those desperately trying to maximise their underprescribed dose
committee and have consequently sat on their prescription pads and used the hackneyed excuse that there ’ s not enough evidence medical marijuana is worthy of treatment on the NHS . They ’ re right in that there is a shortage of research – drug companies believe medical marijuana will cost them money rather than make it . So , no money , no research and no research ,
no prescription – we ’ re back at square one . But to add insult to injury medical marijuana is now legal and available – in theory . You gotta love doctors . What was it , guys ? Ah yes , ‘ first , do no harm .’
And this deeply ironic state of affairs is how things have been stumbling along for the last couple of years – until recently . At the end of 2019 Professor David Nutt ’ s Drug Science started the Twenty21 project , the aim of which is to sign up 20,000 patients by 2021 . Hopefully this will not only offer relief to the 20,000 , but also provide the evidence to enable medical marijuana to be offered universally on the NHS whilst saving the medical profession from requiring a spine .

Carly Barton , a medical marijuana campaigner , has recently produced the ‘ Cancard ’ which would allow anyone stopped while in possession of cannabis to prove their cannabis was medicinal and not for recreational use and so avoid prosecution – an approach supported by none other than the Police Federation and National Police Chief ’ s Council . The Cancard aims to reach over a million people who will benefit from medical marijuana by November 2020 .