The highs and lows of cannabinoid

‘When people think of cannabis, they usually think of the recreational drug and the psychoactive compound THC. However, another very important component of cannabis, also known as hemp, is cannabidiol (CBD) which has no ‘high’ or side effects associated with cannabis. Indeed, it has many proven health benefits.

Studies show that CBD has an impact on a wide variety of conditions including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, heart health, inflammation and anxiety. There is also significant evidence to suggest that CBD can provide pain relief, offering a potential alternative to strong medications such as morphine. My wife suffers from chronic pain and thanks to hemp extract, she is able to control her symptoms with a greatly reduced dose of opioids – reducing side effects caused by these powerful painkillers.

Unfortunately, following our all-party parliamentary group report on medical Cannabis, the debate has been focused around legalisation; something I believe would be a positive step within the medical profession. However, legalisation on a wider scale for recreational use is not something that I currently support. The reality is that many of the proven health benefits of Cannabis, based on study data and current patient trials, can be found from CBD, without the mental health risks or psychoactive effects of cannabis.

The amount of research showing the effects that CBD can have to reduce anxiety is growing day by day. Anxiety is an issue that affects millions of people every day, and CBD can have a real, positive impact on their lives. I look forward to seeing CBD becoming much more accepted as its beneficial properties become more widely understood.

Several thousand children in the UK currently take CBD, sold as hemp extract in health food stores, to control childhood epilepsy. Some of these children were suffering 100s of seizures a day before they started taking CBD which acts on the nerve centres in the brain. In fact, we already produce cannabinoid drugs in our brains, so CBD just gives a boost to a natural system.

The situation now quite serious for these children as the Medicine and Healthcare Regulation Authority has recently decided that hemp extract is a medicine and cannot be sold without a licence. They have said that this will apply from the end of 2016. This is ridiculous when the Home Office is still insisting it has no medicinal value and means that there is a stalemate. So, it can’t be sold as a supplement, or a medicine.

My view is that we do need gold-standardised regulations to ensure that CBD is sold in recognized formulations and concentrations. At the moment, it can be hit and miss until people find the correct dosage for their own symptoms. However, in the meantime, it cannot be good that children who are unable to find relief through conventional drugs are made to suffer when their supplies run out. I am hoping that the MHRA will change their decision.

CBD is now credible and continues to surprise the scientific community. This is a very exciting time for Cannabis research and whilst international studies are ongoing, I believe we will see CBD becoming much more widely accepted as its beneficial properties are better understood.

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