Medicinal cannabis legal stand-off is forcing families to break the law

Our columnist Clare Johnston tackles the sensitive subject of medicinal marijuana and says its legality is forcing families to break the law.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a story about alternative cures and treatments.

I’ve had to stop taking turmeric capsules because they were giving me stomach acid – but the claims around its anti-inflammatory properties pulled me in.

Just a shame my digestive system spat them out again.

Recently, it’s been hard to avoid the incredible stories emerging around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Just last week, a young man revealed his “incurable” brain tumour has dramatically shrunk – something he attributes to vaping cannabis oil.

And there are stories like this emerging almost every week.

We have also had to witness the sad case of little Alfie Dingley, who suffers violent seizures because of epilepsy and whose parents are begging the Home Office to grant them a licence to use cannabis legally as it appears to be the only thing that really helps him.

The legal situation around the use of cannabis oil is quite complex.

Cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from the plant, is legally available in the UK as a food supplement – provided it is sourced from EU-approved cannabis strains.

CBD does not have the psychoactive properties of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also present in the cannabis plant and which cannot be legally sold in the UK.

The Cannabis Trades Association estimate the number of CBD users in the UK has doubled in the last year to about 250,000, and the supplement has been reported as being useful in helping reduce chronic inflammation and pain, anxiety, insomnia and even MS symptoms.

There is also research happening into whether it could be used to treat Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer and epilepsy.

What is clear is that people with a medical need are not taking cannabis oil to have a good time – they’re taking it because all else has failed, they have found something they believe is helping them.

Stories frequently emerge of people vaping CBD oil for medicinal purposes
Yet the stand-off over its legal status as a medicine drags on, and desperate families are forced to take desperate measures.One Labour MP called for medical cannabis users in the UK to “break the law because the law in this case is an ass”.

why make a law-abiding individual face the risk of prison if they’re caught with cannabis when there must be a way of helping now?

At the very least, would it not make sense to grant a licence in extreme cases such as Alfie’s, where its use has been proven to have a significant positive medical impact on the patient?

There must be a common sense solution to this – other than continuing to kick it down the road.

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