If you cast your eyes back to articles published recently on the Volteface website, you’ll find one entitled ‘We need to talk about cannabis dependency’.
The author is completely right of course – we do need to talk about it. Cannabis dependency and the potential to abuse cannabis is a very real problem for some and, perhaps of equal importance, it’s a problem which stands firmly at the forefront of arguments against improving access to medical cannabis or indeed, changing cannabis legalisation and regulation as a whole.
If you wish to advocate for cannabis and those who choose to use cannabis, it’s vital that this concern is well understood and addressed – it helps no-one to act as though this issue doesn’t exist. However, a large part of the reason why most people who are unsure about the safety of cannabis or against the idea of making legal cannabis more accessible in the U.K feel this way not because of a balanced review of the facts or a worry that is backed up by science. It’s a direct result of media-fuelled moral panic and a century of anti-cannabis propaganda, much of which is hooked on the risk of addiction and potential damage to mental health.
Because of this, I feel it’s essential to delve into the nuance of this fear and understand how likely addiction to and abuse of cannabis really is, particularly for patients using the drug medicinally.
When cannabis is prescribed by a clinician, addiction and abuse are extremely unlikely to arise. In this situation, you are using cannabis under guidance – following dosage instructions, using a CBD:THC oil blend formulated and titrated to suit your needs, or cannabis flower chosen carefully to treat particular symptoms or conditions. Most people using cannabis for a medicinal purpose don’t want to get high – they just want to feel well. It’s key to making cannabis widely available to those who need it that we all realise this.
Incredibly, cannabis actually has the potential to be effective for treating a wide range of conditions in very small doses. One study, performed by Dr Mark Ware et al, demonstrated that a low dose of 25mg of herbal cannabis with 9.4% THC, taken spread out in single inhalations 3 times a day, resulted in significant improvements in pain, sleep, mood, appetite, stiffness and nausea, compared to placebo. However, in the trial, there were only 3 episodes of euphoria. None of the other participants described feeling ‘high’ as a side effect.