The Patient Knows Best: In praise of Self Medication
I do not trust big businesses and in the field of health, big businesses become even more difficult to feel comfortable with. The question is whether the health of individuals is central to the work of large businesses, or whether it’s the interests of their shareholders? Of course the two are not mutually exclusive, a good businesses with long term ambitions know that a good product with an excellent service will do their profitability no harm.
The problem for me however is what does a business do when there is a free alternative to their product?
It does appear that cannabis has almost magical qualities when it comes to certain health conditions such as Epilepsy, MS, Parkinsons, and even certain mental health conditions. It certainly helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder. What makes that worse for business is that it is relatively easy to grow at home. You can get free advice too from people such as the Cannabis Social Clubs.
The reason we know that Cannabis as a medicine is useful is primarily because people have self -medicated.
So OK, you may accept the fact that Cannabis should be used for medical purposes, but why not opiates? I have seen their use in Pakistan for detox and it is so much better than the pharmaceutical alternatives we are given. The cost would be minimum as it is an easy plant to grow, and imagine the economic benefit to certain areas of the world if they had the license to grow and sell this product.
Opiates have been used by society for many years and many people have self-medicated with it. I remember talking to a resident in our hostel who had Schizophrenia. I asked her why she took Heroin. She simply said that the drugs she was prescribed had given her bad side effects and were not as successful in silencing the voices she heard. She was an intelligent woman, who was making, what was for her, a rational choice.
In a case of diabetes the norm is to prescribe for the condition, but for many people a change of diet and increased exercise is what is required. I am aware of some friends who have had to be prescribed, but recently a friend was diagnosed and she has successfully managed the condition by buying a dog to make her get out for long walks and by changing her diet. What seemed strange was that she was encouraged onto a prescribed route and her approach was self-researched and acted upon by herself.
I think in medical and social care the key has to be co-production. It is vital that people in need of help are listened to and a variety of options are offered including the non-medical as well as experimental options.
In the case of Cannabis Oil the Government has still made prescribing the drug difficult and there are not many doctors who are willing to help with prescriptions. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45788002
The other lesson we need to learn is that when Cannabis is legalised we need to stop big business profiting. Governments often help big businesses by putting lots of regulations in place which suits big Pharmaceutical companies knowing small and local producers cannot meet those demands. We should support local growers and small community based producers by light touch regulation.