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I live in the UK, and here we have absolutely no legal method of smoking cannabis. Now, I'm not here trying to legalise it completely, because recreational smoking in large quantities can really be damaging to you — for example, making mental health conditions worse, and specific symptoms can be exacerbated, like paranoia. However, its use as a treatment of various medical conditions like glaucoma and Parkinson's disease is widely accepted in places like California. We've all seen a video or two of someone with Parkinson's having an uncontrollable fit of shaking. Their carer somehow administers medical marijuana, and the fit ends in minutes. It's miraculous to watch, so imagine being the person it's helping — it must feel incredible to get that level of relief so quickly.
But really, think about it — only 6% of resources are being used to discover ways it can be used to genuinely help people. And that's in the USA, somewhere far more accepting of cannabis use (when compared with Britain's rigid stance on the matter). The UK's healthcare system — the NHS — has only just discovered that people are buying CBD products to help relieve pain themselves from the internet, and as a result are finally testing its medical uses, but in the meantime, private sale of oils, tablets, and other CBD based products has been restricted by the government, meaning people like me, with a chronic pain condition (fibromyalgia) can no longer buy it online. Super helpful, NHS.
I used the oil for localised pain and took the tablets for more widespread pain — can you imagine me trying to oil my entire leg from knee to ankle? But I digress.
CBD is the chemical compound in cannabis that affects the brain without causing a high, hence it being legal to possess, even in the UK. THC is the chemical compound which causes a high — but it's also famous for its pain relieving. To get the best bang for your buck, you want a cannabis product containing both — which is exactly why marijuana should be licensed for medical uses in the UK.
Take glaucoma — it's a disease which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve. Studies as far back as the 1970s show that smoking marijuana reduces the pressure and can, as a result, prevent someone with glaucoma from losing their sight.
And unbelievably, use of marijuana for medical purposes goes all the way back to 2737 BC, when the emperor of China, Shen Nang, promoted drinking cannabis tea as treatment for gout, rheumatism, and malaria. Now that's a hell of a long time for a supposed "myth" to have endured, and in fact, gained more and more scientific support and evidence.
A severe seizure disorder known as Dravet Syndrome has also been treated using a specific strain of cannabis that's high in CBD and low in THC (but still contains it) with astounding success. Take the Figi family.
They treat their five-year-old daughter Charlotte with this particular strain of medical marijuana, and it's reduced her seizures from three hundred a week to just one. Supposedly it works by interacting with the overactive brain cells which cause the seizures to "calm them down" if you will.
"Why would a government deprive their country of this?" you ask, bemused. "Don't they want their people to be fit and healthy?!" you continue, anger gathering within you.
Well, I asked all these same questions too when I first learned of the medical properties hidden in this one little plant. The answer is simple: money. It all boils down to the fact that marijuana, compared to synthetic drugs, is cheap. It costs far more to test and produce the tablets you buy from a pharmacy than it does to grow a plant, and Big Pharma can therefore justify bankrupting families in the name of research. The logic being if they didn't charge so much, they couldn't produce the tablets these people so desperately need. So people pay it, losing their houses in the process.
CBD has even been proven to have preventative effects on cancerous cells, a study in California has found. CBD turns off the gene Id-1, which is reproduced by cancerous cells and helps it to spread through the body. Researchers isolated breast cancer cells with high expression levels of Id-1 and treated them with CBD. Following the treatment, not only had the Id-1 decreased, but it made the genes less aggressive spreaders. This means that in an actual human, their breast cancer could remain in one place, making it easier to remove before it spreads to other body parts.
This one method of application alone should be enough to convince anyone that cannabis should at least be researched in much more depth, but on the flip side, imagine how much less money Big Pharma would be raking in if less people had to rely on synthetic drugs to treat it. It's a horrible disease that affects millions, but when you only see these people as walking dollar signs, all you see is money down the drain when you think about the effects that cheaper and 100% natural cannabis would have on your walking dollar signs.
I'm not saying we have to legalise it tomorrow, or even this year, but if our NHS could just admit that it's worth doing intense research on the subject, Great Britain could become even Greater one day.
And if a politician is reading this, then just think of it as more healthy bodies signing up for the military. We all win.