MEA welcomes new report that supports wider use of medicinal cannabis | 13 September 2016

The ME Association has today welcomed the publication of a new report that supports the wider use of cannabis for medicinal reasons.

Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, said that further research needs to be carried out into the use of cannabis for pain relief but this was being held back by the current government classification of cannabis as being of no medical benefit.

The report – from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform at Westminster – was highlighted in various news items this morning, including this one on BBC News.

Dr Shepherd commented:

This is a useful and interesting new report from the APPG on Drug Policy Reform.

We already know from feedback and discussions on MEA Facebook that a small but significant number of people with ME/CFS use cannabis to help relieve pain and some other symptoms of ME/CFS.

As with other people who use cannabis purely for medicinal reasons, they risk being prosecuted for breaking the law in relation to illegal possession of this drug.

The report from the APPG has once again confirmed that there is sound scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis for certain medicinal purposes and that serious consideration should now be given to allowing doctors to prescribe it for certain conditions – as already happens in some other countries.

Further research into the use of cannabis in pain – especially nerve/neuropathic pain, spasticity, nausea, anxiety also needs to be carried out. But this is being held back by the current government classification of cannabis as being of no medical benefit.

In relation to ME/CFS, the main symptom where cannabis appears to be helpful in some circumstances is pain. However, other people report that it can be helpful in reducing nausea and/or anxiety.

As the APPG report correctly highlights, this is a drug that can also have side-effects – including impaired ability to drive, an adverse effect on lung function and long term use increasing the risk of schizophrenia. In relation to ME/CFS, it is important to note that there is also the possibility that it could have an adverse effect on cognitive function (memory, concentration, attention span).

In addition, the use of cannabis ‘off the streets’ means that users cannot be certain about the chemical content of the product they are using – adding further weight to the call for it to be legalised and properly controlled for medicinal purposes.

If you use cannabis, or have previous experience of using it in the management of ME/CFS, please contribute to our discussion on MEA Facebook.