DDN October 2020 ‘We have a unique role in breaking county lines’ - Page 13

Medical marijuana dispensaries are becoming common in the United States as individual states adopt laws legalising cannabis to treat medical symptoms . Credit : Bdingman , Peter Kim , Jonathan Weiss , Dmitry Tishchenko / Dreamstime . com

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The Cancard will allow anyone stopped whilst in possession of cannabis to prove their cannabis is medicinal and not for recreational use and so avoid prosecution
One way or another , like it or not , medical marijuana will soon be a fully integrated medicine and then it ’ s going to come into contact with substance misuse treatment .
A civilised country with a good
substance misuse system would see medical marijuana as a boon and encourage suitable users in need to access it , but we don ’ t have a good treatment system – and , to be honest , I ’ m not sure how civilised the country is these days . Anyway , it should be seen as a boon because medical marijuana could play several roles in treatment . Firstly , it can help in recovery . Apologies to all the NA crew , but it ’ s perfectly sane to encourage those in post-acute withdrawal to take marijuana to relieve the minor aches and pains and , more importantly , offer significant help with the psychological aspects of withdrawal .
Secondly , marijuana can also play a role for those on longer term maintenance treatment where it can be used in conjunction with OST to improve compliance . It ’ s also worth pointing out that after
a decade of sub-optimal dosing many users are struggling on too low a dosage and quietly making the difference up with benzos and booze , which is the most dangerous drug combination out there . Marijuana offers a much safer alternative than central nervous system depressants for those desperately trying to maximise their under-prescribed dose .
On top of the specific benefits , service users are people too . So , all the general advantages that everyone else derives from medical marijuana also apply to them , and considering service users are an ageing group with a whole range of aches , pains and illnesses will only mean a larger intersection between service users ’ needs and medical marijuana use .

So , medical marijuana

will be a boon , right ? Well , maybe – if service users are allowed to use medical marijuana , but that is by no means certain . Maybe I ’ m paranoid to question treatment providers ’ approach to medical marijuana , but history suggests that while I might be paranoid , they really are out to get me . I won ’ t be surprised to see treatment providers disapprove of service users also using medical marijuana . Let ’ s
face it , many doctors , key workers and others have a negative , black and white view of drug use . So , perceiving cannabis as medication rather than kicks might be a step too far .
This has happened before . America is years ahead of the UK in regards to medical marijuana and many American substance misuse clinic users are prohibited from using medical marijuana . They face being booted from treatment ( even if they pay for it ) for using what is essentially a legal medication . I appreciate America is a different land but it would take a brave man to bet against the same blinkered approach happening in treatment services here .
In rising Spice use we already have an example of what can happen when marijuana is poorly classified , and its use punished rather than accepted and even valued . Personally , I ’ m going to use weed anyway , but as I age my reasons for using change and now I often use to relieve assorted aches and pains . It would be sensible , not to mention compassionate , to let me access medical marijuana legally and openly . To be clear , encouraging medical marijuana use for clients in need should be seen as best practice . Sadly , sense and compassion are in short supply these days .
Nick Goldstein is a service user
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OCTOBER 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 13