In the UK in 2022 the cannabis conversation is changing as more patients, doctors, and individuals are learning about the benefits of medicinal cannabis. Express.co.uk recently spoke to CEO and co-founder of the Lyphe Group Jonathan Nadler to find out more about how medicinal cannabis can give people a part of their life back.
When medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, the hope was that this would open the doors to a new range of treatments that could benefit thousands, if not millions of patients in the UK. Nearly four years on, and there are many patients around the UK who cannot access medicinal cannabis treatment, treatment that could transform their lives for the better and alleviate their suffering. Express.co.uk spoke to Jonathan Nadler about this issue and he agreed that the situation with medicinal cannabis in the UK is not as it should be, that there are “thousands of patients that are consuming medicines that are prescribed by their doctors and they’re probably not working and not doing the job they should be doing.
“Those patients aren’t being offered the alternative of medical cannabis, which I find just absolutely crazy particularly because 1.4 million people roughly are consuming illegally for medical reasons. There should be a lot more of those patients that have access to legal medical cannabis, but they haven’t and that’s appalling”.
There are so few medicinal cannabis prescriptions on the NHS that individuals have to go private.
However, with the cost of living rising sharply, some people simply cannot afford these treatments, leaving them in a position where they have to resort to non-medicinal cannabis medications that may not be effective.
Studies from a range of medical institutions and bodies have found that cannabis based medicines are effective across a range of fields.
Two of these fields are mental health and chronic pain.
Jonathan Nadler said these two areas are where Lyphe finds the most patients: “What we’re seeing is a real cross section of different types of patients coming to see us with conditions ranging from sleep focussed conditions all the way through to chronic pain.
“I think between psychiatry and pain, it probably accounts for 90 percent of the patients that we’re seeing.”
The effectiveness of medical cannabis is reflected in numerous studies including a 2021 study that concluded cannabis based medicinal products “may be associated with improvements in HRQoL (health-related quality of life outcomes)”.
Furthermore, in 2020, another study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry found: “The most promising…evidence is for CBD as an adjunctive treatment in schizophrenia, with an additional isolated study showing efficacy in social anxiety, and some data suggesting a potential effect for PTSD and ADHD symptoms.
“The data also tentatively suggests that a role exists for cannabinoids in reducing insomnia, which may also commonly occur in chronic pain.”
Findings from these and other studies come at a time when the NHS has warned the UK faces a “second pandemic” of mental health in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic; a role in which medicinal cannabis could have a part to play.
On the nature of the challenge faced Nadler agrees: “It’s become endemic, we are in the middle of something horrific when it comes to navigating mental health and I think what we’re seeing in the case of cannabis with a lot of our patients that come in with psychiatric conditions is they really are getting back their quality of life.”
In order to get an idea as to how many people medicinal cannabis could help it is important to realise the scale of the challenge faced.
A June 2021 report published by Versus Arthritis detailed the extent of the suffering in the UK: “Around 15.5 million people in England (34 percent of the population) have chronic pain.
“Around 5.5 million people in England (12 percent of the population) have high-impact chronic pain and struggle to take part in daily activities such as self-care, family, community and work.”
With regard to chronic pain, studies have shown that medicinal cannabis can be effective; researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine concluded at the end of one study that: “The treatment of chronic pain with medicinal cannabis…resulted in improved pain and functional outcomes, and a significant reduction in opioid use. Results suggest long-term benefits of cannabis treatment.”