The MS Society, a major multiple-sclerosis charity, believes that sufferers of MS should have access to medical cannabis, and are now pushing for it to be available via prescription in the United Kingdom. Their claim is that one of every ten patients can benefit from the therapeutic benefits of the plant as it reduces both the pain and the spasticity that come along with the condition. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the MS Society, around twenty percent of MS patients have used cannabis to ease their symptoms.
Unfortunately, the law prevents pharmacists from stocking or supplying it to customers. This has got MS sufferers and advocates gearing up against unfair policies and laws that limit access to a well-regulated legal treatment option like medical cannabis.
In addition to calling for the government to reassess its position on medical cannabis for MS patients, the MS Society is also urging for a cannabis-based drug called Sativex to become available via prescription in the UK. The drug is used by some people with MS, and comes in the form of an oromucosal spray containing THC and CBD derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Currently, Sativex can only be obtained privately, and for about £2,000 per year. Wales is the sole exception.
For the time being, patients are taking to the cannabis black market, which brings about a host of problems on its own. Potency can vary wildly in products obtained through an unregulated illegal market, and most of these buyers cannot be certain about the contents of the plant-such as if it’s been tainted with anything like harmful pesticides or even other drugs. The fear of legal repercussions prevents many from seeking it out this way, even if the plant does genuinely help reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Of MS patients, the survey conducted in 2014 found that:
- 20% of MS patients tried cannabis at least once to ease their symptoms.
- Of that 20%, only 7% continue to do so.
- 26% stopped using cannabis out of fear of legal consequences.
- 26% of all survey respondents expressed the desire to try cannabis, but have been deterred because of the legal status of it.