MS charity says cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use

UK should follow the lead of Germany and Canada and legalise the drug for people with multiple sclerosis, a condition that already has a licensed cannabis-derived treatment, says MS Society.

Doctor writing prescription for medical marijuana

Cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to relieve their pain, a leading charity has advised.

A report by the MS Society, which represents people with the condition, found that 72 per cent of people with MS thought that cannabis should be legalised for medicinal purposes.

The MS Society also said it was “urgent” for people with MS to have access to Sativex, a cannabis spray, which is generally not available on the NHS and which is too expensive for most people to buy privately.

MS is the only condition that has a licensed treatment derived from cannabis, Sativex, but apart from in Wales no pricing agreement has been struck between the manufacturers and the relevant approval bodies.

The MS report said that “cannabis for medicinal use could benefit many people with MS experiencing pain and muscles spasms, if they have tried other treatments that haven’t worked for them”. People with MS felt there was a strong case to support a change in the law, the report also revealed.

The report follows a survey of pharmacists’ views on the medicinal use of cannabis launched by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). The results of the survey will be used to inform draft RPS policy on the issue, which will then be presented to national pharmacy boards for discussion.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said:

“We think cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use for people with MS to relieve their pain and muscle spasms when other treatments haven’t worked.

“Evidence shows cannabis could help some people manage these often exhausting and relentless symptoms. While there are NHS treatments for pain and muscle spasms, they don’t work for everyone.”

Edwards stressed that other countries, like Germany and Canada, have already done this “in a safe and controlled way”, and urged that the UK government “should follow suit”.

“It would make a real difference to around 10,000 people with MS who could potentially benefit,” Edwards said.

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, July 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203314