Scene set to legalise medicinal marijuana for MS sufferers

Talks on whether to introduce medicinal marijuana-Flikr-Chuck Coker

Talks around introducing medicinal marijuana. Photo: Flickr/Chuck Coker

Hilary Pidgeon reveals the latest government plans to introduce a new form of medical marijuana for MS patients.

Ireland is finally following in the footsteps of our European counterparts by introducing a new form of medicinal marijuana. Multiple sclerosis patients can finally have the pain relief, without serious side effects, that they have been waiting for.

The new drug, called Sativex, is the reason that all of this is possible. The medicine is used as a peppermint flavour mouth spray, that is primarily aimed at MS patients. It has extracts of medicinal marijuana that relaxes the muscles and can also help alleviate pain. The spray is also used for cancer patients and has had hugely positive results.

The side effects are minimal and include dizziness, disorientation and drowsiness. Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White is working on new documents to change the legislation for misuse of drugs. When all this comes through, they are hoping to release Sativex for the public as early as 2014.

This is a huge step for Ireland, and the decision seems to be widely supported. MS Ireland has encouraged the decision and has been urging the government to bring forth the new legislations as soon as possible.

Emma Rogan of MS Ireland has been praising this decision on behalf of the people saying: “Anecdotally, we do know people are buying cannabis on the streets, and that is a completely unfair way to treat people and to make them have to do that. It’s not about people wanting to get out of their mind. It’s people wanting to live their lives with some basic dignity.”

Most GP’s will prescribe medication for pain and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are extremely heavy and when taken long term can wreak havoc on the  body. While the medications sometimes only work  to a small extent, they have crippling side effects. Nausea, stomach ulcers, bleeding of the stomach is all extremely normal and common with these drugs.

According to the information leaflets supplied with the medications, some of the more extreme, but rare effects, can be changes to your mental health and higher risk of stroke. Life with a debilitating disease is hard enough without all these extra problems. The medicines they are prescribing at the moment take away one problem temporarily, yet introduce a set of whole new ailments to suffer from.

It’s painful, uncomfortable and this is why the introduction of Sativex and changing the legislation is a positive thing. While it’s aimed at MS patients for the moment, once the government begins to look at more of these authorised medicines people who suffer from illnesses such as cancer, osteoarthritis and diabetes, may well reap the benefits.

Of course, there will always be concerns with the intake of a drug that was formerly illegal. Two of the main concerns are; ‘What if I get addicted?’ and ‘Does cannabis give you lung cancer?’ Cannabis is not an addictive substance; in fact it can only become addictive psychologically, not chemically.

So in that case, where it’s consumed frequently the user may believe they cannot be without it. While smoking is still thought to be a factor in developing lung cancer, there are plenty of other ways to ingest it. Eating, drinking, sprays and vaporisers don’t involve carbon monoxide or carcinogens as it’s not lit on fire.

The benefits of legalising this medicine are clear and the government has taken a huge step towards helping MS sufferers. These decisions are setting the foundation for an Ireland with a whole new way of thinking, which is a change we have been waiting for.

Image:Photo by Chuck Coker

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