There’s being a growing movement towards more patients accessing medical cannabis around the world but in the UK it’s still something of a taboo subject. But with a growing body of evidence in support of using marijuana for a range of conditions, should it be more readily available for patients.

Cannabis based drug Sativex was the first of its kind to be approved in the UK in 2010 and is currently used to treat some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as neuropathic pain and spasticity. However, it can only be prescribed by specialist doctors in certain circumstances and isn’t widely used. Other than Sativex, cannabis is considered to be a class B drug and cannot, therefore, be supplied for medical conditions.

As well as MS, cannabis research has suggested the drug can alleviate the symptoms of other conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease but the debate on whether it should be made more widely available continues.

Yes, medical marijuana should be more readily available

One of the key factors behind the pro-medical marijuana debate is that there’s a growing body of evidence that shows it can have a positive impact on a variety of conditions. Over 40 countries, including Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and the US, have decriminalised cannabis in some form, making it far more accessible to patients that could benefit from it. The Royal College of Nursing is one of the most recent organisations to lend its voice in support, noting it can provide relieve pain and control symptoms. The organisation also points out that many painkillers are legal despite being from the same family as heroin.

Another essential point in favour of decriminalising the use of cannabis for medical purposes is the fact that many patients are already turning to the drug, potentially putting themselves in vulnerable situations as they need do so by accessing a street dealer. Legalising the drug would be patients can be certain of what they are taking and be monitored by a professional.

No, medical marijuana shouldn’t be more readily available

Of course, there is a strong case against making medical marijuana more readily available to patients. Firstly, while research has been positive, clinical data still highlights concerns, including those that show use could be dangerous and have a long-term impact that has yet to be fully explored. Some studies, for example, have suggested that long-term use of cannabis could affect critical organ function, indicating that more research would be beneficial to fully understand the effects of cannabis.

Another issue against the drug is what parameters will be set around it and how they will be enforced. For medical marijuana to be used more frequently there would need to be significant changes in regulations and how its use is governed. T

What’s your view on the subject – should doctors have greater capabilities to prescribe medical marijuana for a range of conditions?