In a response to a letter of mine, the Home Office has reiterated the Government’s position of medicinal cannabis users: "not in the public interest". Below is my open reply to the Home Office.
Myself and other medical campaigners receive little recognition. We are the cause that doesn’t need donations of money, we simply need a contribution of united noise.
In a Charge of the Light Brigade moment, and like a badger chewing on its own leg in desperation to escape a trap, I emotively ask my fellow countrymen to address if we are of public interest? I invest my faith in the UK, please, make a noise for us.
If you would support myself, or an M.S sufferer, a cancer patient who can actually get through chemotherapy with a better standard of living, an AIDS patient, we are all real, behind closed doors and classed as outlaws. We are at risk of 5 years imprisonment for using what is comparatively the safest and most effective medication for us. Please address this archaic law. Email, forward, tweet, blog, FaceBook, YouTube, write, - please - just go to bat for us?
We're not Outlaws, we're simply suffering. If you do support this plight, become one with us, stand up, be an Outlaw too.
An Open Letter and Reply to the Home Office.
Thank you for your reply on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister dated 17th September; subject matter - the medicinal cannabis users of the UK.
I have suffered debilitating illness since the age of 8, I’ve largely been housebound for the duration. I have taken the pharmaceutical route with some trepidation over this period. My case is not uncommon, there is a large proportion of society that suffers from M.S, AIDS, Cancer, CFS, M.E, Fibromylagia, Arthritis and many other ailments that are also left in the wilderness with treatments. The human costs of the current law regarding medicinal cannabis users is still not resonating in the UK it would seem. Many of the pharmaceuticals prescribed are as detrimental to health as they are of benefit. I can unfortunately play full testament to this; it is with some irony I received the Home Office’s reply at this time. I have just undergone tests to see if my liver is still functioning. The heavy years of prescribed medication have taken a toll on my body. I will spare the futile attempt of describing what it is like to address your own mortality and how this also effects the loved ones around you. This is my personal pound of flesh to cannabis prohibition.
Although I would never be so crass to insinuate I represent the thousands of medicinal users of cannabis in the UK, I do try and advocate a collective period of reflection on their behalf. The UK still remains a country that upholds democratic ideals, it is for society to decide what is fair and moral, and it is this vein I reply to the Home Office’s letter. I ask; is the current law ethically correct?
The Home Office’s reply said: “The Government’s message is that cannabis is a harmful drug that should not be used.” However, I would like to point out that this is a message that the Government cannot pertain to or back up with factual evidence. This statement simply remains a “message”. It is also worth noting that it has not gone amiss that (due to recent news events) the Home Office website has amended its comments with regards to cannabis harm, the website reiterated the Government’s point but no longer can this message be found on the Home Office’s website due to a swift edit.
At no point can the comparative harms of cannabis be used as damning evidence against it, when looked at in conjunction with other controlled and non controlled substances - and prescribed medications- cannabis is a largely benign substance that rates low in harm. The harms that do come from cannabis are mostly due to abuse and the humanistic traits that come from this, when used responsibly and respected, the comparative harms of cannabis are negligible and this needs to be remembered.
In my own personal comparative harms scale, the pharmaceuticals that I have been prescribed outweigh cannabis exponentially. As long as I use cannabis responsibly, (which is comparatively easy to achieve) I will suffer little to no consequence. Like many medical users, I vaporise and limit my intake where I can so it remains an effective source of pain relief and solace. Under current law, I am not credited with sense to titrate even though the prescribed drugs I have taken for 20 years are highly addictive and high in tolerance building. Cannabis cannot pertain to anywhere near a similar level of tolerance, addiction, harms or toxicity. Although I seem to have escaped this period of time with my life and liver, the same will not be true for many others in our democratic community. If just one more person has to suffer due to this current law, then I propose it is not beneficial to society in any way.
The Home Office has explained the terms of obtaining a cannabis/hemp cultivation & possession licence: “It can only be issued for research or other special purposes, provided that the Home Secretary is of the opinion it is in the public interest to do so.”
I would like to ask how I apply for a licence as I would like to submit an application. My research is on going - and it is a simple equation - I am saving my own life in literal terms by using cannabis. I have explored all options in my battle with illness and have spent a merry fortune on therapies as most of us have in this position, cannabis is the most effective method by a considerable margin, this is the message the Government needs to accept, and this is a message that most of the world has listened to. I feel my case would also fall under the “Special Purpose” clause of obtaining a licence. Is there a greater purpose than to ease suffering and to preserve life? Are the lives of the disabled and suffering of public interest?
I am more than aware the apathy that has surrounded medicinal cannabis users in the UK, it is a plight that myself and other medical campaigners are having to fight with very little support. We look to other countries and the public support that has been invested; America, Canada, a large proportion of Europe, they have all had weighty champions, public figures and media interest with regards to their infirm and cannabis. An amnesty has been granted and many other countries have stepped up to the plate for the victims of this prohibition, but the UK has yet to step up to the crease; the consequence of this is that we, as noisemakers, are left with ever more increasingly desperate pleas.
As stated in the Home Office’s reply, it is worth noting that cannabis has indeed been a schedule 1 drug in the UK for many years, this means: “Of no medical value”. It is curious that the Home Office goes on to recommend Sativex, a spray derived from the plant. Is it not an oxymoron that a schedule 1 substance is classified as having no medical value only for licensed drug to be made almost entirely from this plant?
The succinct reply to the recommendation of Sativex is that (mixed with the long and intrusive procedure that the Home Office have outlined that I would need to go through) it is notable that a near blanket boycott of Sativex has been in force in the UK with M.S sufferers (the intended recipients of Sativex) having increasingly lengthy battles to obtain this drug. I stand little chance. Also, I would like to point out that if I was to obtain Sativex, it will be at a cost to the NHS of £125 per spray, this equates to around £11 a day. My autonomy with cannabis is of no cost to anyone but myself.
An overlooked point is the benefits of the therapy that comes with growing your own medication. The peace of mind, the knowledge base and the quietude of gardening is a serene and helpful process in itself. By cultivating one’s own medication, you can tailor strains for needs, ensure a source free from street contaminates that have been a result of prohibition, and sever criminal ties. The increase of punitive measures from severing ties with the criminal element serves only to oppress and endanger further.
On a very brief note with regards to my questioning of the comparisons of alcohol and cannabis in the Misuse of Drugs Act, The Home Office has said that alcohol falls outside the framework of control due to historical reasons. Indeed, I know this also, the Freedom of Information acts that can be readily found and obtained proclaim that the Government actually have no scientific reasoning for the juxtaposed position of cannabis and alcohol, but the status quo will remain, simply due to cultural and historical reasons. Please address how this makes those of us with disabilities feel when we are not allowed any degree of standard of living for no actual good reason. This alone is another brand of mental anguish that is hard to relay.
A final noteworthy point is the current policy on the “Legal High” ban. The Government has acknowledged the detrimental consequences of the criminalisation of those found in possession of legal highs, in essence, a decriminalisation process is in effect. Is this a fair society where experimental substances carry no penalty to the individual, and yet those of us who need a fairly benign substance just so we can get through a day without pain or get a night’s sleep still face 5 years imprisonment? The Government clearly accepts that decriminalisation has public benefits, so why do we receive no such clemency?
As medical campaigners who try and raise awareness on this to little avail, I ask one more time for the criminalisation of the disabled and suffering of the UK to be addressed seriously. A simple decriminalisation is the very least the UK can offer at the current time. We still risk prosecution in its entirety, as do families and loved ones who simply allow us under their roofs. It is fair to say prison would all but kill me, I dare say the same can be said for a M.S and cancer patients. Invariably, we cannot afford the monetary fines either.
As an adult and citizen, it is my choice and decision to measure the harms and draw conclusions accordingly to my lifestyle, I have taken these decisions with a great deal of time and study. The government’s message that cannabis is harmful is factually flawed and is of little consequence to the individual who is in mortal combat with the hand that fate has handed them; cannabis is a miracle in real terms for the individual. It is however the Government’s mandate to take considered decisions based on public interest; I ask our country again, are we of any public interest? With democracy as our ally, I emotively propose that the current law is not just, and that we are in need of change, aid and compassion.
Yours, Jason. (HomeGrownOutlaw)
A quote from Dr. Lester Grinspoon; Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School:
"In the twentieth century cannabis has been proposed or shown to be useful as a medicine for many disorders and symptoms. These range from proven to speculative, but they should all be of interest to anyone concerned about human suffering. The narratives of patients illustrate most vividly not only marihuana's therapeutic properties but also the unnecessary further pain and anxiety imposed on the sick people who must obtain it illegally." - Marihuana, The Forbidden Medicine (co written by James B. Bakalar)
(Note: Citations and scientific evidence can be found on this blog with many more to follow; it is a deliberate action to this specific blog to focus on the wholly on human costs of the current law with a view to disengage from the deliberately muddying & superfluous debate on the substance itself)