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In Reply to GW Pharmaceuticals (Justin Gover)

GW Pharmaceuticals’ Justin Gover has recently been speaking to the press regarding his work; specifically, Sativex.

It has been said that Sativex is a cannabis ‘based’ spray; therefore, this gives less credence to the notion of herbal cannabis medication.

It is too easy to point out that Sativex is THC, CBD and an alcohol extraction – basically meaning it is a cannabis tincture wholly reminiscent of yesteryear’s medicines.  This, however, is irrelevant to the issue.

GW Pharmaceuticals have long been looked at with admiration from the disabled members of community.  Their work has progressed the political credibility of cannabis medication; the company wouldn’t be where they are today if not for the support they have received from individuals and case studies.  The relationship between GW and the disabled community has been mutually beneficial.

It is somewhat disconcerting to read some of Justin Gover’s remarks.  Firstly, it has been said that Sativex – far from lending authority to cannabis medication as an issue – it actually renders herbal cannabis redundant.  This comment seems to be embroiled with monetary incentive.  To suggest pure cannabis is demeaned due to Sativex is an glaringly obvious oxymoron.  With thousands of years of enriched history, cannabis medication has a relatively short amount of time to show for its political ignorance. Despite this embargo, cannabis still continues to push boundaries in science and medicine.

Perhaps the biggest point of contention lays in the mantra that Sativex does not get you high, and indeed, other cannabis based (or mimicking drugs) also profess to be: “Cannabis without the high“.

I am not alone when I relay that a large issue is being overlooked, and this voice cannot be heard in what seems to be a media blackout to this side of the story.  Speaking as an outspoken medicinal user of cannabis, I would like to try and convey the side of the story that mainstream would shy away from given the perceived taboos.

The proclamation that cannabis based medicines will not get you high is all well and good as many medical users do not want to for the most part; the option of getting high should not be viewed with such cynicism or disdain though.  There is a distinct flavour that the act of getting high makes a drug enjoyable, and therefore, it is deemed wrong in the eyes of dignified society.

To get high infers laziness, lethargy, and general negativity.  Looking at the literal definition of ‘high’ – this translates as euphoric, elevated; uplifted.  When locked in a day to day struggle with long-term illness, to receive a boost in mood – whether it is through good news, productivity or some other fashion of mood enhancement – this is worth its weight in gold.  Many who use cannabis as their chosen medication have chosen to do so due to the comparatively safe means over pharmaceutical alternatives.  Indeed, many long-term sick are unable to use state approved drugged highs such as alcohol, caffeine or tobacco.  So I ask; why is it deemed so wrong to receive a lift in mood and happiness through medication?  Do we not have prescribed pills that act in the same manner?  The difference being that antidepressants are notoriously harmful for the most part.  It is a fundamental part of cannabis that it makes you happy, and this side effect should not be denied credibility to those who have little else.  Happiness has a knock on effect in everyday life, and cannabis can help to maintain a level head in oblique situations.

Other side effects of cannabis include appetite stimulation, a sleeping aid, and yes, it promotes the sex drive.  Boy does it promote sex drive; must we delve into this?  I would like to keep it on record that I want to keep the side effects of cannabis.  I believe it to my informed decision to decide what effects of a drug are deemed affable to my body.

There is but one more point that is often overlooked; the self empowerment of having your life handed back to you, and to be in control.  Long term illness means incessant scrutiny.  Being under a constant gaze is another realm of hell that does no favours to the mood of those that suffer.

As Dr. Lester Grinspoon says, cannabis is actually a very safe drug to titrate with given you can’t overdose and the side effects are negligible in comparison to pharmaceutical alternatives.  Those that have chosen cannabis have done so for self preservation’s sake.  Unlike many prescribed drugs, cannabis is non organ toxic, and therein lays the desirability.  To be in control of one’s own destiny is a trait most would not understand until a similar road has been tread.

The Cannabis plant provides thousands of strains, all with differing effects.  To tailor strains to the needs of the user is the beneficial part of this issue that is being wilfully overlooked.  Some are rich in CBD and are good for pain, anxiety, and spasms.  Some are loaded with THC which gives a more euphoric and creative dynamic to the user.  Might I further point out; invariably, these plants are grown with as much care and attention to detail as pharmaceutical grade cannabis.  One could argue that more care and attention goes into cultivation from a medicinal user than it does a multinational company – I guess that one is subjective, but I would argue the case.  Sativex is a welcome addition to the medicine cabinet, but it certainly has not, nor ever will replace, cannabis in raw form.

Prohibition leaves medicinal users – and indeed anyone – with two options:  Grow your own and face 14 years imprisonment, or, forage for supply on the street for a lesser sentence.  The latter will undoubtedly leave the user at the mercy of hard-line criminality and adulterants such as glass. Contaminated cannabis is now rife on the streets.

Cannabis is more than a medicine, it is cathartic, it is an all encompassing therapy.  Ironically, the benefits of cannabis cannot be bottled and sold as the old adage proclaims.  It is more than a sum of its parts, and it is for the sufferers – not the financially incentivised – that should be heard in this discussion.