Doctor's diary: cannabis as medicine - the dilemma

February 03, 2005

, Telegraph (UK)

Grey-haired Patricia Tabram, in court last week for possessing 240 grams of cannabis – worth £850 – reflects a growing trend of 'buyers' clubs'. Those with a medicinal need for the drug are banding together to buy it in bulk, with, one assumes, a discount from the supplier.

The difficulty for the police in trying to crack down on those such as Mrs Tabram is that, increasingly, it appears that cannabis may be the only remedy for a range of conditions for which there is no adequate medical treatment.

Mrs Tabram finds that cannabis alleviates her tinnitus, while Dr Jonathon Berman of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital reported in a study last year that it can produce 'significant improvement' in the most devastating neuropathic pain resistant to all forms of analgesia. It is also widely used by those with MS who find it relieves their symptoms of pain spasm and tremor.

These patients are caught in a cruel dilemma. With the recent change in the law, they can legally possess cannabis for their own medicinal use – but they depend on those people such as Mrs Tabram to obtain it and the Mrs Tabrams, in doing so, are liable to criminal prosecution. No doubt my old university friend Home Secretary Charles Clarke, himself a child of the Sixties, will have sympathy with their plight.

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