Critically ill breaking law by using cannabis for pain relief

PEOPLE with crippling illnesses — including multiple sclerosis and cancer patients, — are among those being forced to break the law by using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

MS Ireland and a consultant neurologist, Dr Orla Hardiman, both disclosed ‘many’ sufferers use cannabis to treat spasticity and pain.

Last year, MS Ireland wrote to ex-health minister Mary Harney inquiring about the possibility of making Sativex, a cannabis- based drug licensed in Britain, available in Ireland.

The organisation outlined the published research into the benefits of Sativex and asked her to make it available to people with MS.

“We heard back asking if we could nominate a medical professional who could help review the product,” a spokesperson for MS Ireland said. “We nominated our medical adviser but that’s all we heard.”

Dr Hardiman, meanwhile, said she believes cannabis can help people.

“I have a lot of patients who use it for spasticity and pain, for whom stiffness is eased and they can walk much better than they used to,” she said.

“But doctors cannot override the law and it is against the law, so we can’t endorse it.”

The Department of Health, meanwhile, said that as cannabis was the drug most abused in Ireland, it was reluctant to loosen controls on its use.

However, the department is examining the issues associated with applying controls, similar to those that apply to other controlled drugs that can be misused, such as morphine and methadone, to cannabis-based medicinal products.

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