Before you read this article, is it vital that we all understand the importance of shared understanding. It’s why we use dictionaries so that we are all clear. I’ve blogged previously about the importance of language in the debate, you can read it here: https://cannabiscafecardiff.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/the-importance-of-language-in-the-debate/
In this article, I’ll be exploring and challenging the flawed rationale for treating cannabis as a pharmaceutical. So the accepted definition of a pharmaceutical is:
‘Pharmaceutical, noun: A compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug’
Back in October I put a tweet out to warn the cannabis consuming community that they will need to have their wits about them as the UK starts its slow, painful arthritic movement towards the regulation of cannabis. I described the situation as ‘peak prohibition’, forecasting that the worst was yet to come.
Roundly derided at the time, it would appear that my (and others’) cynicism has been vindicated. Here we are, a full 6 months on since the UK supposedly made cannabis available on prescription and it was ‘job done’ as campaigners and PR agencies slapped themselves collectively on the back. So let’s just have a look where we are so far:
When we examine more closely how this is all being handled, we realise just the gross levels of incompetence on hand, from government to reformers themselves. We realise just how poorly understood cannabis is, and how the cult of CBD is actually holding wider reform back.
A very British idiosyncrasy, is the arrogance with which we dismiss anything foreign when it comes to scientific or medical evidence. You see, after hundreds and thousands of years of documented use, and more recently under an intense degree of scientific scrutiny, the evidence is in. It’s all been done. California has remained the 6th largest economy in the world despite having had a medical cannabis programme for decades. It hasn’t turned into a free for all, a wasteland of civil breakdown and pandemic levels of psychosis. Neither has Colorado, or, closer to home, Spain, Portugal or most famous of all, the Netherlands. So when we see in the UK, that cannabis is obviously so radioactively toxic that the MHRA have to put it through the same process that they put gabapentin or fentanyl, then I’m sure you’ll allow us a little bit of collective eye rolling.
We have to disentangle this mess. There is now, an ever-decreasing circle of insanity attached to reform and it’s being fuelled by a diet of exclusive red herrings. Bear with me…..
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. So effectively, they are there so that compounds manufactured for use as medicinal drugs are safe and have been tested before being used on humans, have trials for efficacy and so on.
They are there so that novel drugs never before exposed to human biology don’t kill us when doctors prescribe them. A good thing.
So before we go any further, we need to determine if cannabis is a medicine, or, whether is it simply a plant with medicinal properties. Like, say, lesser celandine, the roots of which you can brew into a tea to ease discomfort from hemorrhoids; or elderberries,which make a great cold soother and also have great anti-inflammatory properties.
Given that cannabis has been around and used as a medicinal plant for a lot longer than the MHRA, and certainly all of the other modern compounds manufactured for use as medicines, maybe we are going about this in the wrong way. We are applying a pharmaceutical regulatory procedure to a plant and it’s clear it’s a process that’s not appropriate here.
Is it any wonder the whole thing is gnarled up in misinformation, misinterpretation and misunderstanding? When you layer onto this attempt to regulate, the unproven and unfounded myth of cannabis induced psychosis; the cult of CBD and this new obsession with isolating and commercialising other individual cannabinoids you can start to see how long all this is going to take and in fact why for millions, nothing has changed.
It’s also fundamentally wrong to segment cannabis into ‘types’. It’s all the same cannabis people just consume it for different reasons. Pink Kush from Tilray racks in at a very respectable 25% THC and 0% CBD. Similar to well-grown Haze. This is despite the UK obsessing about, and some notable voices wrongly asserting, that cannabis without CBD content is not medicinal. Medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis ARE the same cannabis irrespective of their cannabinoid or terpene profile.
Bedrocan use Sensi Seeds as a supplier of seed stock. Sensi Seeds (and their offshoot White Label Seeds) are responsible for some legendary strains –Super Skunk, was one of theirs and today they claim to be the worlds largest seedbank with over 500 strains under their banner.
Bedrocan grow Jack Herer, yes, that knock out old school favourite Sativa dominant hybrid. And it’s the same for every medicinal cannabis producer on the planet. To develop new strains they sow hundreds of seeds and then over time select, clone and cross particular phenotypes which they roll out under a trademarked name. But it’s no more medicinal cannabis, as it is recreational cannabis and they aren’t doing anything different from you and I in our grow rooms and gardens. It’s just cannabis. In fact, Bedrocan’s version of Jack Herer is a Haze, crossed with Shiva Skunk (NL #5 x Skunk #1), and Northern Lights #5.
So now that’s out of the way, we can all finally agree that medicinal cannabis is no different from good quality street cannabis. And badly grown poor quality medicinal cannabis (yes there is such a thing), is no different from badly grown, poor quality street cannabis, but the messaging from some wings of reform won’t share this information with you or they flat want to shut down this really inconvenient aspect of the debate.
In the UK, they often maintain that THC causes psychosis and only their medicinal cannabis contains CBD (which they also wrongly describe as being the good cannabinoid to counteract the bad cannabinoid, THC).
Now, because of prohibition, our medical establishment have been prevented from education about cannabis so they simply only listen to what they believe is the credible source of information. People like the government (being briefed by lobbyists) or the Royal Society of Psychiatry and, as a result, we are at now a point in the UK where people who know nothing about cannabis, or have ever used or grown it themselves are leading organisations or campaigns or running training programme for clinicians and others without any understanding of what has just been described.
So, as a result the medical establishment do not understand the endo cannabinoid system in the same way that they understand other human biological systems. Cannabis consumers do however, we know that the endocannabinoid system is highly personalised. We know this because of the variance in effect from person to person from the same source – ever been in a group with everyone using the same weed? The range and variance of effect from person to person can be considerable, but not dangerous. It is further the case that what one person finds pleasant, another may not. Or one strain for patient A may not be effective for patient B even though they have the same condition.
Patient B may require less CBD and more THC, or a different terpene profile because they don’t get on with Myrecene dominant strains.
There are not many pharmaceutical drugs that are comparable to cannabis because they generally don’t contain over 400 active ingredients. They generally only have one active ingredient. And the fact that we are seeing an obsession over THC vs CBD demonstrates the complete collective lack of knowledge or willingness to accept that this needs a different approach. People are waging a war over which is THE most important (profitable) single active ingredient. The fools!
You cannot use MHRA procedures, designed to regulate single-molecule pharmaceutically-manufactured medicines, to regulate a plant that is grown and has flowers, leaves and roots and everything that’s about as non pharmaceutical as you can get. It won’t work because the plant is too complex at a molecular level. It’s not a compound manufactured, it’s grown. And it’s a plant with (incredible) medicinal properties, not a pharmaceutical. Clever old cannabis.
So what to do? Whilst we watch epileptic kids have life threatening seizures day after day, or provide counsel to friends and loved ones who are being criminalised simply for undertaking non-damaging life enhancing activities, the cohort of insanity rumbles on.
The government could, and should therefore do this tomorrow in order to clean up this car crash: