Interview with Professor Mike Barnes, Chairman of the Medical Society of Cannabis Clinicians and Hannah Deacon, Medical Cannabis Campaigner.
The event of the Covid-19 Pandemic has taken the world by surprise; but this hasn’t stopped the ongoing campaign for the legalisation of medical cannabis, as Hannah and Mike tell us.
“The world, if anything, is waking up to the limited power that pharmaceuticals have” says Professor Barnes, leading Neurosurgeon and medical cannabis advocate. “We are only scratching the surface of the power of the endocannabinoid system to regulate internal bodily functions, contributing to homeostasis”.
The Medical Society of Cannabis Clinicians is an independent community of medical cannabis pioneers – the first prescribers of this treatment in the UK. The Society is an expert-led, not-for-profit community, dedicated to bringing this safe, legal and effective medicine to people living with chronic conditions.
Over the past number of years, the MCCS has seen a number of quite extraordinary use cases of medical cannabis – watching lives being transformed has been quite an incredible experience, says Hannah Deacon. “My own son, Alfie Dingley, has suffered from severe epilepsy. We tried everything and it is incredibly upsetting, and emotionally draining, to watch your child suffer. The only thing that helped Alfie was Bedrocan Oil, imported from Holland”.
Alfie was originally treated using traditional medicine, with little or no effect upon his seizures. When Brexit threatened the ongoing import of Bedrocan Oil, it also threatened the life and well-being of Alfie.
There has been broad, global progress relating to the legalisation of medical Cannabis. Indeed, in the past 18 months alone:
- The United Nations voted to reclassify Cannabis away from a narcotic, recognising its medicinal value.
- The United Kingdom classified CBD as a novel food, implementing a regulatory framework for product control.
- New Zealand held a referendum surrounding the legalisation of cannabis for recreational and therapeutic use, with 50.4% voting against legalisation and winning by the narrowest of margins.
- Switzerland has initiated a pilot programme, in May 2021, to look at the sale and regulator of recreational cannabis.
This is only some of the progress that has been made; the world, it seems, is only going one way in terms of its outlook on cannabis.
While this is extremely positive, argues Prof. Barnes, more needs to be done in the UK to advocate for GPs prescribing medicinal cannabis.
“While medicinal cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, the NHS has provided just 18 scripts since then. We find that incredible, despite proven use cases”.
This is the role of the MCCS, to empower clinicians with the education and necessary advocacy to write scripts.
“With widespread medical adoption, comes acceptancy and diminished stigma”, says Hannah.
Perhaps, then, with the historical prohibition of cannabis and the associated societal stigma, there remain tangible blockers to societal acceptance. The notion of cannabis as an illegal substance continues to pervade, conjuring up images of illicit drug trades in car parks.
“In the medical world, this is far, far from the reality. We have seen real world use cases where lives have been enriched, and disease symptoms managed, through the use of medical cannabis”.
Companies like Sativa Learning seek to provide the educational framework for increased cannabis awareness; their CBD course was launched in 2021, and have a medical cannabis course in the works too.
As for CBD, although Cannabidiol is tightly regulated now in the UK, people are waking up to its therapeutic and transformative powers, with markets continuing to grow.
“With increased usage of CBD, comes increased awareness of the wonderful properties of the Cannabis plant. With CBD being used to treat insomnia, anxiety, joint pain and overall wellness – this can only be a positive step towards changing perceptions” says Hannah, who continues to advocate on behalf of people who suffer from similar conditions to her son, Alfie.
What does the Future hold?
With global reform ongoing, and victories for cannabis occurring almost daily, it seems inevitable that the UK Government will begin to take a more serious look at the case for cannabis legalisation.
Companies like Real Cannabis Club are passionate in creating communities of empowered CBD users, who are all passionate about CBD use and its therapeutic role in their lives, says Phil Patterson, founder.
“The current climate of criminality cannot continue indefinitely. Society is slowly waking up to the fact that, it is just a plant – heavily synthesises alcohol remains on sale, freely, and is destroying lives. Same with Cigarettes”.
The MCCs will continue to advocate on behalf of medical cannabis users. They are passionate about what they do and have a wealth of real-world expertise. You can contact Mike or Hannah at [email protected]
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