Cannabis stays a category B drug right here in Northern Ireland, that means possession or provide of the drug can lead to hefty fines and 5 to 14 years imprisonment.
Yet the plant has enormous medicinal properties, starting from aiding these affected by PTSD, to the alleviation of power ache, regulation of diabetes, enchancment of lung capability and the therapy of a number of sclerosis and epilepsy. It has additionally been discovered to be useful within the therapy of despair, arthritis, most cancers, ADHD, autism, seizures, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s illness.
Cannabis incorporates what are generally known as cannabinoids that are proven to be profoundly useful within the alleviation of power ache and in stress-free sufferers receiving palliative care.
All animals have an endocannabinoid system of retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) all through the central nervous system together with the mind. This system regulates the pharmacological results of cannabis.
The energetic chemical compounds in marijuana are just like chemical compounds the physique makes which are concerned in urge for food, reminiscence, motion, and ache.
And the analysis suggests cannabinoids can scale back nervousness and irritation, and as we now have talked about, relive ache; they’ll additionally management the nausea and vomiting occasioned by chemotherapy in addition to killing most cancers cells, slowing down tumour progress and stress-free muscular tissues in individuals with MS.
CBD oil and hemp merchandise which include cannabis minus its main psychoactive constituent THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), are in the stores simply, and medicinal cannabis (any type of treatment containing cannabis) could be prescribed right here in sure distinctive circumstances.
Famously, Co Tyrone mum Charlotte Caldwell, mom of 15-year-old Billy, who suffers from refractory epilepsy, fought a protracted authorized battle in order that her son might legally obtain prescriptions of medicinal cannabis on the NHS.
They first made headlines in 2018 when officers at London’s Heathrow airport confiscated cannabis-based medication from them, which had been obtained in Canada.
Cannabis was the one drug in a position to stave off the a number of seizures Billy would endure every day and Charlotte needed to launch a authorized problem in opposition to the NHS and the Department of Health right here in Northern Ireland so as to safe Billy’s entry to the drug.
On October 11 2018, the federal government introduced that from November 1, 2018, professional medical doctors could be given the authority “to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines when they agree that their patients could benefit from this treatment”.
The authorities emphasised that solely a “specialist doctor” – and never a GP – can prescribe “these unlicensed medicines”. This makes it extraordinarily troublesome for sufferers to legally entry the drug since many should wait months or years to see specialists who’re way more more likely to prescribe medicine made by massive pharmaceutical corporations fairly than treatment produced from the surprise plant due to its legal legacy.
And what of leisure cannabis use?
Smoking weed or pot has been with us because the swinging Sixties when hippies frolicked at communes professing peace and love whereas smoking spliffs.
American president Richard Nixon turned to more and more harsh measures in opposition to cannabis use within the Nineteen Seventies, and stepped away from proposals to decriminalise or legalise the drug. The administration started the so-called ‘War on Drugs’, with Nixon in 1971 naming drug abuse as “public enemy number one in the United States.”
Under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis was listed as Schedule I with different medicine, having most abuse potential however no medicinal worth. Well, Nixon couldn’t have been extra mistaken and at the moment 16 American states have legalised cannabis use.
A number of nations, now accepting the huge medicinal properties of the cannabis plant, have additionally moved to decriminalise the drug together with Canada, Germany, Australia, Greece, and too many extra to checklist right here.
Barry Brown, west Tyrone consultant for the political get together CISTA (beforehand named Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol however now generally known as the Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance) is passionately dedicated to the entire legalisation and regulation of the drug.
“Peter Robinson called us cracks when we stood for election in 2015 as the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol Party, but three years later we have legal – but not accessible – medicinal cannabis.
“Yet cannabis is a widely used drug here, as it is in other parts of the UK and across the world. You can get it delivered as easily as you can get a pizza delivered. Around 10 per cent of the population have consumed or do consume cannabis regularly.
“The worrying thing is that at the top of the chain cannabis distribution is presided over by guns and muscle, or paramilitaries. If we decriminalised and fully legalised recreational use we would be protecting people from any engagement with these thugs who make a mint from dealing.
“I think people should legally be allowed to buy and use cannabis, because, of course, in my view it is safer than alcohol which leads to street brawls, domestic abuse, all kinds of violence and risky behaviour in a way that cannabis simply does not. Cannabis relaxes you and it is more likely that if you smoke a joint you will feel peaceful and relaxed and behave in a more sanguine way towards others.
“Yet we think nothing of consuming alcohol because it is so widely available and such a big part of our culture.
“I would say that since the start of lockdown research would show that cannabis use has increased and if people are using it to relax or unwind or achieve relief from back pain or so many other ailments, then I don’t think this is a bad thing at all.
“In fact I speak to lots of people who use cannabis for medical reasons when they find that the pain medication that they have been prescribed by doctors doesn’t provide relief. And the sad thing is that doctors will only prescribe cannabis when they have exhausted the possibilities of all other drugs, which seem more harmful to me than a naturally occurring substance.
“Northern Ireland could benefit massively in economic terms if cannabis was fully legalised and regulated, because there is a big market and what’s happening at the moment is that the paramilitary rogue traders are the people raking it in. That is something we need to change.”
Brown concedes that cannabis could be misused and there’s some proof that use of the drug can produce destructive psychological well being outcomes equivalent to psychosis in some individuals.
THC is the compound answerable for this and there are completely different strains – sativa, which is related to creativity, stimulation and the cannabis ‘high’ – and indica – which Barry describes as ‘couch lock stuff’ that’s extra helpful to these looking for sedative or pain-relieving properties.
“But most drugs present some kind of danger. To me, of all the drugs out there, alcohol is infinitely more likely to lead to aggression and violence.
“If cannabis was discovered today it would probably be hailed as a wonder drug and alcohol would probably be outlawed. It’s a warped situation that we find ourselves in and I believe we would benefit as a society if we acknowledged that people are and will continue to use cannabis both recreationally and for medicinal purposes, and amend our legislation accordingly, boosting the economy and giving people easier access to a substance more likely to disseminate peace and love than a bottle of whiskey.”