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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

In Reply to GW Pharmaceuticals (Justin Gover)

GW Pharmaceuticals’ Justin Gover has recently been speaking to the press regarding his work; specifically, Sativex.

It has been said that Sativex is a cannabis ‘based' spray; therefore, this gives less credence to the notion of herbal cannabis medication.

It is too easy to point out that Sativex is THC, CBD and an alcohol extraction - basically meaning it is a cannabis tincture wholly reminiscent of yesteryear’s medicines.  This, however, is irrelevant to the issue.

GW Pharmaceuticals have long been looked at with admiration from the disabled members of community.  Their work has progressed the political credibility of cannabis medication; the company wouldn't be where they are today if not for the support they have received from individuals and case studies.  The relationship between GW and the disabled community has been mutually beneficial.

It is somewhat disconcerting to read some of Justin Gover’s remarks.  Firstly, it has been said that Sativex - far from lending authority to cannabis medication as an issue - it actually renders herbal cannabis redundant.  This comment seems to be embroiled with monetary incentive.  To suggest pure cannabis is demeaned due to Sativex is an glaringly obvious oxymoron.  With thousands of years of enriched history, cannabis medication has a relatively short amount of time to show for its political ignorance. Despite this embargo, cannabis still continues to push boundaries in science and medicine.

Perhaps the biggest point of contention lays in the mantra that Sativex does not get you high, and indeed, other cannabis based (or mimicking drugs) also profess to be: "Cannabis without the high“.

I am not alone when I relay that a large issue is being overlooked, and this voice cannot be heard in what seems to be a media blackout to this side of the story.  Speaking as an outspoken medicinal user of cannabis, I would like to try and convey the side of the story that mainstream would shy away from given the perceived taboos.

The proclamation that cannabis based medicines will not get you high is all well and good as many medical users do not want to for the most part; the option of getting high should not be viewed with such cynicism or disdain though.  There is a distinct flavour that the act of getting high makes a drug enjoyable, and therefore, it is deemed wrong in the eyes of dignified society.

To get high infers laziness, lethargy, and general negativity.  Looking at the literal definition of 'high' - this translates as euphoric, elevated; uplifted.  When locked in a day to day struggle with long-term illness, to receive a boost in mood - whether it is through good news, productivity or some other fashion of mood enhancement - this is worth its weight in gold.  Many who use cannabis as their chosen medication have chosen to do so due to the comparatively safe means over pharmaceutical alternatives.  Indeed, many long-term sick are unable to use state approved drugged highs such as alcohol, caffeine or tobacco.  So I ask; why is it deemed so wrong to receive a lift in mood and happiness through medication?  Do we not have prescribed pills that act in the same manner?  The difference being that antidepressants are notoriously harmful for the most part.  It is a fundamental part of cannabis that it makes you happy, and this side effect should not be denied credibility to those who have little else.  Happiness has a knock on effect in everyday life, and cannabis can help to maintain a level head in oblique situations.

Other side effects of cannabis include appetite stimulation, a sleeping aid, and yes, it promotes the sex drive.  Boy does it promote sex drive; must we delve into this?  I would like to keep it on record that I want to keep the side effects of cannabis.  I believe it to my informed decision to decide what effects of a drug are deemed affable to my body.

There is but one more point that is often overlooked; the self empowerment of having your life handed back to you, and to be in control.  Long term illness means incessant scrutiny.  Being under a constant gaze is another realm of hell that does no favours to the mood of those that suffer.

As Dr. Lester Grinspoon says, cannabis is actually a very safe drug to titrate with given you can’t overdose and the side effects are negligible in comparison to pharmaceutical alternatives.  Those that have chosen cannabis have done so for self preservation’s sake.  Unlike many prescribed drugs, cannabis is non organ toxic, and therein lays the desirability.  To be in control of one’s own destiny is a trait most would not understand until a similar road has been tread.

The Cannabis plant provides thousands of strains, all with differing effects.  To tailor strains to the needs of the user is the beneficial part of this issue that is being wilfully overlooked.  Some are rich in CBD and are good for pain, anxiety, and spasms.  Some are loaded with THC which gives a more euphoric and creative dynamic to the user.  Might I further point out; invariably, these plants are grown with as much care and attention to detail as pharmaceutical grade cannabis.  One could argue that more care and attention goes into cultivation from a medicinal user than it does a multinational company - I guess that one is subjective, but I would argue the case.  Sativex is a welcome addition to the medicine cabinet, but it certainly has not, nor ever will replace, cannabis in raw form.

Prohibition leaves medicinal users - and indeed anyone - with two options:  Grow your own and face 14 years imprisonment, or, forage for supply on the street for a lesser sentence.  The latter will undoubtedly leave the user at the mercy of hard-line criminality and adulterants such as glass. Contaminated cannabis is now rife on the streets.

Cannabis is more than a medicine, it is cathartic, it is an all encompassing therapy.  Ironically, the benefits of cannabis cannot be bottled and sold as the old adage proclaims.  It is more than a sum of its parts, and it is for the sufferers - not the financially incentivised - that should be heard in this discussion.


  1. You never fail to put into words what we all think Outlaw. For so long I've been trying to get the point across that I need cannabis just the way it is. it works for a reason, you can't simulate that. Money money money, that's what it's all about yeah?!


  2. The crucial thing is to get this into the City.

    GW has turned against the cannabis community. It does not recognise nor appreciate the grass roots support that it has enjoyed. If we can reveal the sham that is Sativex and that anyone can produce the same medicine in their backyard for pennies, then we can advance the truth.

    It only needs one trader properly to understand the great con that GW is perpetrating and the power of the markets will reveal the truth about cannabis and the deception that is Sativex.

  3. Yeah, this really did annoy when I read it a few weeks back. There was a real air of backstabbing and villainy. I'm giving them the benefit of doubt as we know how the press twist things, but they're on dodgy ground in many many ways. If they get too cocky, they can be made to look very bad in a lot of ways.

  4. Oh my God, give it a break. For once someone had commom sense to produce stable and regulated product with consistency - the picture on the side of the article just reminded me off exact same thing - what you might buy at the 'medicinal shop' might not be ineffective - it is just that the quality control is lacking and for understandable reasons -- home grower is not going to perform cannabis content measures. I should point out, that quality control also lacks at even best pharmaceutical companies sometime - as in the recent whistle blower case(s) in regards to company disregarding the microbiologist who basically was telling that production line was using unclean water.

  5. Cannabinoid content studies - what kind of grower is going to perform that. I tend to say that none will - they will go by what the seed seller says the seeds will produce. But that might be true or not true. I understand that even medicinal grower (not pharmaceutical) can produce clones of the plants, but then again - soil content, pH - I tend to say that at GW - they even have QA for soil - to assure consistency. It seems that what most are mad about is that someone special jumped the gun, while maintaining illegal status of the plant, and got OK to produce a pharmaceutical product that is ALMOST basically the same as the plant pictures. Unfortunately, I tend to see the trend that most of the shops propagate the smoking of the plant, which seems not so medicinal..

  6. Hi Anonymous, thank you for the comments.

    Firstly, all comments are welcome I assure, but please could you can refrain from opening comments like "oh my god, give it a break" as they are not really productive and slightly insensitive to the issue at hand.

    That said, you seem to have missed the point of the piece. It's all well and good having a consistent measure in each vial, but it still detracts from the self empowerment of cannabinoid therapy and titration, the positive side effects that should not be dismissed, and the oxymoron of having sativex as schedule 4 when a devout proclamation has been made that cannabis has no medical value; schedule 1.

    Then, there's the fact sativex is only being prescribed to M.S patients, and indeed, most of these sufferers are not being prescribed the drug anyway. The cost of sativex is around £111 per vial, this in no way is cost effective so it is for the chronically ill to suffer once more due to price tags.

    These are the points to address, not the specifics of quality control. My comment on the home grower refers to the hobby that many sick and disabled persons come to find through growing their own medication. The emotive feeling of this action is unrivalled and this point is fairly apparent - I didn't feel I need expand on it. The care and attention to detail is actually very accurate, from PH tests, to trichome technologies, the domestic grower can produce some very stable results.

    If medical users wish to smoke, that is for them to choose as this action is their choice. I personally vaporise which means I get THC and CBD, I believe these two composite chemicals to be medicinal by any criteria - especially as I cannot ingest any alcohol; thus rendering sativex an non option for me and many who suffer alcohol intolerance.

  7. Jason, I completely agree. Growing Cannabis correctly in its highest and purest quality is a very tough skill to master. I as you know, have been visiting growing facilities for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Denver, Colorado.

    I have seen some OK grows and some pretty poor commercial size grows, but I have also seen some incredibly beautiful gardens that have the HIGHEST of care given to them.

    Different Genetics are tested and bread, different soils and lighting systems have been put up against each other - all in the name of producing illness specific strains. The names may not sound pharmaceutical but they sure as hell are more effective.

    That's because the people that have developed the medicine, trialled the medicine themselves. They didn't trick animals into cages and dose them up to the eyeballs with toxic substances and the fact that cannabis has been developed into such a potent and effect form of medicine pays tribute to the non toxic qualities of this plant.

    I too am unable to consume alcohol due to my Crohn's disease - not that these is ANY need for me to consume alcohol at all. Sativex is purely a CO2 cannabis extraction which removes the essential oils (the medicine), from the green plant material. There are some but not many cannabinoids left behind. All the cannabinoids extracted in this process are included in Sativex. Glycerine Tincture is a very effect alternative I can assure you. It would be cheaper to produce, much more effective, much more cost effective, healthier for the patient and quicker to turn from dry flower buds into a clear liquid 'medical looking' product.

    I can tell you, Anonymous that smoking is a much quicker way of ingesting cannabis and receiving its benefits. For someone with a urgency disease, where at any moment my bowels can spasm much in the same way as a person suffering with MS can, the need to smoke is so great you could not imagine. And I can't be made to run off to an area away from because there is a stigma around cannabis. That is based on immoral values, and I would already have soiled myself in the time it has taken you to read this sentence.

    See a real professional cannabis garden, Pink House from Denver.

  8. @ Anon - As outlaw has already said sativex is £111 a vial. I have no idea how many doses that is or even if its a months supply. What I do know however is that it is far simpler and cheaper to grow ones own. probably in the region of £30 per month.

    Sativex is a sham and while it might be great for MS it won't touch my depression due to its CBD/THC make up. I am fully aware that Super Silver Haze on the other hand works wonders for my state of mind. I can make a whole plant tiniture of this strain and it will behave completly differently to the tiniture made by GW.

    It's all about personal choice and that magic word FREEDOM.

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