The NHS in Wales is set to become the first in the UK to fund a cannabis-based medicine for people with multiple sclerosis. Sativex is an oral spray that has been approved by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group. It will be available on prescription to treat muscle spasms for patients Multiple Sclerosis who have not responded to other medicine.
Regular readers of this blog will know I strongly oppose decriminalisation of drugs, including cannabis. There are too many unknowns and questions that the pro-decriminalisation lobby ignore. I fear that there would be an increase in use as people think, legalised, it must be safe. That happened when cannabis was downgraded by the previous government. But, as I have seen over the last 15 years, there has been a big increase in cannabis-related mental health problems amongst those presenting at services.
The argument that the prohibition leads people into the arms of dealers is too shallow. If a legal age is set below which cannabis could not be legally supplied, say 18, those 12 to 17 year olds would become much more interesting to the criminal gangs that currently supply illegal drugs.
One of my biggest concerns is the number of people who hide behind the medical use argument in order to get wider decriminalisation. They are often pro-drugs, rather than pro-medical use. They and I occupy different universes. I don’t think that the use of mind-altering and damaging chemicals should be encouraged in any way; they think it is ok. I have seen too many victims to endorse their libertarian arguments.
But I have always struggled with the genuine medical argument. If sufferers from any condition can get relief from pain and suffering, then how could I be opposed. A solution such as offered by Sativex seems to be the solution. When I was seriously ill a few years ago, morphine certainly had an attraction, and it served a purpose. But that is a long way away from me advocating the decriminalisation of diamorphine.
A spray on prescription will meet the demands of those genuinely concerned about MS sufferers. I hope that it will become more available. But I suspect those afflicted with that very Brighton affliction, congenital middle class libertarianism, will not be satisfied.