Medical marijuana may have found wide acceptance in the US, but the UK is far behind, when it comes to prescription, usage or research on the drug. Only a few users have been able to get it through the NHS.
Marijuana is an active ingredient of many drugs and since prescribing it is something unusual for traditional NHS practitioners, only a handful of patients have been prescribed. Since NHS doesn't make it available, the only option for patients with conditions like cancer is to purchase it legally.
This wariness may be coming to an end since a clinical trial is starting for the impact assessment of marijuana on seven medical conditions.
The study, which is called Twenty21 will subsidise cannabis for 20,000 patients to test the impact on conditions such as:
- Chronic pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-Traumatic Stress disorder
- Tourette's syndrome
- Anxiety disorder and
- Substance abuse
Professor David Nutt, who heads the organisation Drug Science, which has been authorised by NHS to do the study, told Sky News, "I believe cannabis is going to be the most important innovation in medicine for the rest of my life. Cannabis medicines can be life-saving in disorders like severe childhood epilepsy."
He goes as far as to say that the absence of Cannabis-based products has been responsible for deaths in children due to these ailments.
Medical cannabis is a far better solution for issues such as chronic pain – it doesn't have the side effects or the addictiveness of opioids.
The challenges, though, have only begun. The traditional medical society which NHS hails from has a lot of scepticism about medical marijuana. Authorities such as clinical watchdog NICE have raised issues with prescribing it.
Project Twenty21 is a unique endeavour and has been backed by psychiatrists. If it can actually be researched upon, prescribed and distributed by NHS, it will bode well for not just patients in the UK, but will boost its credibility in medical communities throughout the world.