Steve Bradshaw, interviewer: What kind of medical conditions could cannabis-based medicines treat?
Dr Phillip Dobson (Medical Director of Clinical Trials at Oxford University's
Medical Research Centre) It can treat multiple sclerosis, spinal chord injury,
conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's Disease,
Ulcerative Cholitis. There are a number of painful diseases which aren't really
helped by morphine and other strong analgesics. Cancer pain, perhaps, is an
example of that. And then you've got the symptoms related to HIV, AIDS, and
perhaps in more speculative areas. For example, cannabis may be helpful in some mental
conditions and mental illnesses. On and on it goes!
Professor Lester Grinspoon, Harvard Medical School
I believe that cannabis,
because it is so versatile as a medicine, will eventually be used by millions of
people around the planet. In fact, like penicillin was considered the wonder
drug of the 40s because it was versatile, it was non-toxic, it was inexpensive,
I think that cannabis is very likely, eventually, to be seen as the wonder drug of
the opening of the 21st century.
Professor Mike Barnes, University of Newcastle Upon
Tyne, who treats patients
with severe Multiple Sclerosis is one of a growing number of NHS doctors who
actually suggest that people with severe symptoms should actually try cannabis despite
its illegality - if they can get it.
"Most patients with severe MS have already heard about the
benefits of cannabis and about one-third have already tried it. ... I have
asked them if they have tried it and, if so, what have the effects been. And if
they haven't tried it, and nothing else seems to work, then I suggest to them that
it might be worthwhile trying it. [interviewer: Even though it is against the law?] Yes.
that doesn't worry you?] No. It doesn't worry me. Because it's widely used.
I've no doubt, looking at the evidence, that it is useful for a variety of
conditions that help those people with long term chronic problems, particularly muscle
spasm, particularly chronic pain. I've no doubts about the literature on the
subject, and I think that it is a perfectly correct moral stance to take it -
suggest that people try it."
Dr Willy Notcutt, James Paget Hospital Great
There seems to be
some sort of Puritanism about the high from cannabis. And you have to ask
yourself why. Here is somebody whose life is miserable. It is a miserable life.
They are commonly depressed. If the cannabis were just to make them a little bit
happier, a little bit mellow, so that they can relax more, so that life becomes a
bit pleasanter, who are you or I to deny them that? After all, we widely use
anti-depressants. We use drugs like Prozac at the drop of a hat, and yet these are
mood-altering, mood-enhancing drugs. Why should cannabis be any different?
interviewer: Do you believe that it is possible to draw a line between medicinal and
recreational use of cannabis?
Professor Lester Grinspoon I believe that it is possible to draw a line but
it's a rather fat, fuzzy line, because there is such a lot of overlap. For example,
a person comes home from work and, as a way of relieving stress, and doing so very
effectively, with a few puffs of a joint. I am all for that. I, AS A PHYSICIAN, am
all for that, because stress is not good for one.
[Note from AH - in fact, stress is a REAL
killer. It is a condition that is harmful physiologically as well as
Dr Phillip Dobson All the patients [in the trial] have been very severely
handicapped by the symptoms in their disorder - in this case usually multiple
sclerosis - and it has been striking that most people have had a positive
response. If you took the 20 patients that we have initially seen, perhaps 2 or
3 would not have been helped, ... another 14 would have been given some
significant clinical relief in terms of at least one symptom which, previously,
had been intractable, and then 2 or 3 patients would have experienced symptom
relief which really goes beyond that, and might reach a level that actually
transforms their lives. It's that striking!
The fact that
cannabis may be able to be used to treat such a huge variety of severe medical
conditions will affect the whole debate on its legalisation. For example ...
Professor Lester Grinspoon It's going to
have an enormous effect because cannabis is such a versatile medicine, and many
MANY people are going to be using it as a medicine! And they, and the people who
take care of them, and the people who observe them, who surround them, are going
to have to reconsider their [wrong] notions concerning the toxicity of this substance.
And, as they come to understand that it's a relatively benign substance, this is
going to bring about the decriminalisation of cannabis.
Dr Willy Notcutt: The results so far
have exceeded what I even dared to hope for. My previous experience with other
similar types of material had led me to believe that we might get one-third
better, and if we got a half of our patients improved then I'd say "Great.
We were there." But we've seen 80% of our patients getting GOOD quality
benefits from the cannabis! For some, they have got almost TOTAL relief of their
pain. TOTAL relief. Their pain scores actually go down to zero!
Let me tell you what I would like to see
happen to Ms Tandy.
I would like to see her get some
excruciatingly painful disease.
I would like to see her suffer dreadfully,
day after day after day, and know that she was most probably going to die.
I would like to see her humiliated and
embarrassed in front of her loved ones as her body decayed and degenerated while
she experienced nausea and vomiting fits.
I would like to see her descend into a state
of hopelessness and despair.
And I would like the medical profession to
deny her any access to the drugs that might relieve her suffering.
Oh Angry Harry. That is outrageous! That is a
truly terrible thing to say.
But given that Ms Tandy is most happy to
inflict such dreadful traumatic experiences - and worse - upon
others in reality, then, in my view, she deserves
to experience such things herself.
And I am not ashamed to say so.
Any person or official or politician who takes
up a position that prevents or delays very sick people from experiencing the
amazing relief that can be provided for them by a few marijuana leaves is barely
fit to be a part of the human race let alone fit for any important office within
And I urge any police officer or FBI agent, or,
indeed, whoever has a heart, to undermine these people and to have them thrown
out of their jobs.
Why? Why? Why?
You can smoke cigarettes till your
lungs blacken and burn. You can drink all the alcohol that you wish, even if you end
up fatally poisoning yourself. You can eat and drink all the free-radical
promoting, cell-busting, cholesterol pumping sugars, fats, carbons and junk
foods that you desire, no matter how obese you grow or how furred-up your
arteries become. You can sit in the hot sun all day till your skin sizzles,
crisps and cancerises. You can endanger your life, your bones and all your vital
internal organs through sports such as bungee jumping, mountaineering, sailing,
flying, surfing, diving, rock climbing, boxing, skiing and motor racing. You can
stress your heart till it tears and breaks through daily overwork,
over-exercise, driving and arguing. You can damage your joints and your
cartilages through athletics, body-building, running, rowing and dancing. And,
of course, you can even very directly threaten your own life and those of others
through having unprotected sex.
You can do all these things, and thousands of
other things, quite legally - even though your short-term and long-term health might well both be damaged irreparably.
But, if you sit at home and quietly smoke a
joint - perhaps in order to relieve yourself from some pain - you are a criminal who deserves to be persecuted and prosecuted because,
apparently, over the long term, cannabis might damage your health.