by Michael J Bailey
IT'S great to see the Government making a move on gay marriage, but when are they going to press the button on medicinal marijuana?
Why do they drag the chain on this? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see how this can help people in pain, so why the delay.
There's a report from Better Health I stumbled across and maybe if somebody in Canberra can read this and understand the facts that it's safe to go. Let's just press the go button.
Researchers surveyed 874 patients (518 users, 356 non-users) and found that users reported significantly better "satisfaction with their health", which included "less pain, less anxiety, less depression, better sleep, less visits to the emergency department and hospital, and fewer sick days versus non-users".
The results may come as no surprise to many medical marijuana patients, especially those who suffer from epilepsy.
These patients in particular reported higher qualities of life, including less hospital visits, versus non-users.
READ MORE | MJ on Sat'day
Another significant finding is that the "majority of epilepsy patients used cannabidiol (CBD) products (56.5%), with 4.8% saying they used THC products". In other words, "these folks don't want the psychoactive effects".
What the results of the study make evident is that public policy and usage are moving quicker than science or research on the subject.
Like so many others, these researchers are calling for more insight into medical marijuana simply because "patients are going to do it anyway".
So why the delay? This is what our 4cc on-air health reporter Gerald Quigley has to say:
"We hear news reports about the impending use of medicinal cannabis," he said.
"The benefits far outweigh any potential risks, and that is part of the reason who so many vested interests are involved.
Real, sincere and genuine patient care seems to be the least of the considerations:
- Politicians are involved, and that allows personal egos to be strutted to the news bulletins and the camera crews who want a story. Serious facial expressions bely the fact that the longer the discussions go on about appropriate legislation and control, the more media opportunities present themselves.
- Pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) involved in the pain management market with commonly prescribed opioid therapies are worried - their market share (and shareholder dividends) are potentially threatened. Nothing upsets this group more that a market opponent - lobbyists are set to work, denigrating comments are forthcoming to the media generally, random research reports of adverse events are dragged up. Sadly for them, investigation of these reports show poor quality cannabis extracts, little standardisation of actives within the plant and poor research direction. However, if they paint an uncertain picture, all is well in their view.
- Manufacturers of cannabis products are desperately looking for investors. These investors want a quick and really healthy return on their funds, best caused by enough research being generated that a large Big Pharma company will sweep them off their feet with a superb takeover offer. Take the money and go home.
- Potential prescribers of medicinal cannabis aren't all that keen to get involved. This is a new area, out of their comfort zone of an opioid pill for every chronic pain ill. Education is required (who has time?), moving into new areas is risky (what will my GP mates think?) and will I get a reputation as a prescriber to druggies?
- Lastly, the patient is involved. More people die in Australia from prescribed opioid misuse than die on our roads. That's a disgraceful statistic and one that is never discussed in the public domain.
READ MORE | Medical marijuana
Chronic pain destroys lives, causes social breakdown within the family unit and has an enormous impact on the nation's economy. Australians deserve better. Surely patient outcomes should be the primary consideration?
Medicinal cannabis has been used in Europe and some states within the US for many years. Deaths from prescribed opioids have plummeted.
So what's really, really stopping us from demanding a safer, more reliable and just as effective option to chronic pain? Vested interests? Political posturing? Effective opposition lobbying?
I wonder ... We all wonder.
Gerald Quigley is a pharmacist and master herbalist so he and everyone is waiting for the green light to shine.
Can we get someone in Government to go ahead with a decision or must we vote on everything ourselves. I wonder why we pay for pollies when they can't bite the bullet and just get on with the job.