Arthritis sufferers warned off cannabis

Misleading reporting about medical cannabis in the London Times

By Finn Hemingway

Today The Times, a UK newspaper printed a very brief article about a recent study that has been published in Arthritis Care and Research. The study says that “the effectiveness of medicinal marijuana to treat symptoms of conditions such as arthritis, lupus or fibromyalgia was not supported by medical evidence.” They also hasten to add that the risks of cannabis include mental illness and addiction. 

The study was conducted by McGill University Health Centre in Canada, Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, who led the study said “physicians caring for patients who are self medicating with marijuana need to understand the health implications of using this drug.”

Article in the London Times

Misleading and biased article about medical cannabis and arthritis in the London Times.

It is positive that stories like this are published, it gets people talking, and all the good GPs certainly engage in conversation with their patients. However, it is difficult to build a critical and coherent argument from this quagmire of utter nonsense. So we will start with the title; Arthritis patients warned off Cannabis.”

It remains unclear about which part of the cannabis plant medicinal users are to be warned off from. Surely they don’t mean CBD as well? It also remains unclear whether The Times believes arthritis patients have an opinion. All that we know for certain is that this study firmly believes that there is no scientific evidence that shows it may be beneficial to patients.

As modern science understands it, CBD (a non-psychoactive cannabinoid) is a highly effective and naturally occurring pain killer. Does the Times seriously mean to debunk decades of research in one fell swoop by regurgitating prohibition rhetoric? Yes, perhaps they do.

The constant reference of the word “marijuana” is unscientific and concerning. The scientific name being cannabis. Marijuana was a term coined 70+ years ago by American prohibitionists to purport the myth that cannabis use was an ethnic problem caused by migrant Mexicans. Personally I find cannabis more catchy, I digress.

The really disturbing part of this article was the one sided nature and character assassination of cannabis. There was not even a hint of a “pros versus cons/bad versus good” discussion. It was pure blunt bashing, no shame, no remorse, it was prohibition prose of the lowest form.

Arthritis is not exclusive to people with a freedom pass or a pension, there are people of all ages that require constant medication to relieve themselves from a life of constant pain and discomfort. I wonder what they have to say about cannabis?

Luckily for me, I speak and interact with people with a wide range of medical complications, I hear their first hand evidence detailing their experiences with medication and cannabis.

So to give fibromyalgia & arthritis patients (I cannot attest for lupus patients) some justice where an article from the esteemed “Times” does not. For the sake of consistency I will now show you a few conversations I have had with people that have arthritis, MS and Nail Patella Syndrome who medicate with cannabis.

Conversation 1

An MS patient I was talking to said the following and I was wondering if her predicament would apply to other medicinal users.

“Hey Finn, Just thought I’d pop in and say hi as I am an MS patient and have had it with all the crappy meds they put you on that actually make you worse not better … it is the biggest joke”

Conversation 2 

“I’ve just seen your post about medicinal users, I have nail patella syndrome? Crazy rare disorder ha, all my bones muscles etc are pretty f****d.  It’s a genetic syndrome that’s basically a pick and mix of ailments ranging from glaucoma to kidney issues!

“Through Facebook and the internet in general me and my family have made friends with fellow NPS people all over the world. Most of them are also smokers and swear by it as a pain reliever, as I do too! One of the first guys to get medicinal marijuana over in America had NPS !!

“We get prescribed all sorts of harsh on the.stomach pain killers, codeine etc., … that have resulted in my stomach being fairly f****d, hernia , ulcers etc., that makes it hard for me to eat properly too so weed helps there as well, it also fights off glaucoma! So win win!

“I could go on all day about the benefits I get from cannabis, and that’s another reason why I’m planning on fighting as much as possible for all medicinal users!”

Conversation 3 

This from a medicinal user with arthritis who I was speaking to the day that this article was released. Here is a transcript from our conversation.

Finn: Do you think your doctor should warn you against self medicating with cannabis because of the mental health risks that may exist?

Patient: To be honest like you say its not proven, maybe a doctor should tell you the possible long term effects, but not force your decision whether to use it. Me personally, as a someone who uses cannabis to relieve my pain and help my joints, long term effects are not relevant. A doctors opinion is helpful but not always the right way to go.

Finn: As cannabis is an important medicine for you, do you think that more research should be conducted into cannabis as an effective pain relief med for arthritis?

Patient: Definitely mate, I do believe that. My doctors here try to fob me off with steroids, cancer drugs, and Immune stabilisers, which have a lot more risk and are damaging to your body.

Finn: Do you have anything to say to the times newspaper that published this article?

Patient: To be honest that article load of s***, excuse my French. Depression and mental health issues can be triggered by anything, I hate doctors and scientists saying it doesn’t benefit people and causes harm, look at alcohol thats worse and it’s totally legal.

Finn: Does alcohol provide you any pain relief from arthritis.

Patient: No, the pain stays there you just pay less attention. I’ve had so many pain killers and cannabis is by far the best working pain relief for arthritis.

In short, this article is a demonstration of our consistent failure to support the people in our society who actually need support and drug reformation. The article has by the skin of its teeth avoided calling patients who are users of medicinal cannabis common criminals and has not sought to even mention the other side of the story.

How much longer are we going to ignore the patients?

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9 Comments

  1. I was diagnosed with Fibremyalgia back in ’91 and believe me, it doesn’t get better! I also have Arthritis and Cannabis definitely DOES relive the pain and helps to relax stiff muscles. Just about all of the NHS Doctors that I have asked, agree that it can help the symptoms and none of them warned me of side effects.
    I have asked for a prescription, but I am told that it is only prescribed to M.S. Sufferers. This leaves me without for most of the time as I live out in the Country and finding someone that has any, is difficult and there is always the danger of connecting to the wrong kind of people, like Dealers who really don’t care and also deal in class ‘A’ drugs. I am being FORCED on the the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ to get hold of a little bit of relief. I am being FORCED into a DANGEROUS position of having to find it. I would appreciate an address of a Medical Cannabis Seller if anyone has one, is there any kind of register where would I apply?

  2. Sufferer of Ankylosing Spondylitis here. Diagnosed when i was 25 now nearly 28 and I can categorically say that cannabis helps with this condition. Yet again this is big pharma starting to use media influence to stray you away from cannabis truth. Until people understand that being in pain 24/7 365 isn’t exactly normal or easy to live, we will just keep getting this kind of crap article shoved in our faces. I have a sneaking suspicion that arthritic based medications make the pharma industry a tasty profit every year. This profit driven medical care worked in the USA for a while but never really took off in Britain. They have tried so hard to medicate the shit out of us but your opiates are bad, unhealthy, and no way beneficial to a sufferer of a lifelong condition. Now people are realising…Wait a minute! This cannabis plant may help not necessarily cure but HELP my 24/7 pain situation WITHOUT bi products of nausea, fatigue (well sometimes), mood swings, neck and spinal pain – the list continues but you get the idea. This is article is nothing short of a slap in the face to someone like me and the rest you sufferers. You reckon these “news” people would make an effort to speak to focus groups of people who have the conditions to gauge a real life perspective of pain management and cannabis use? I’m gonna hazard a guess at NO because they are incompetent. Stop Paying Your TV Licence = Saving Money

  3. yet again another nonsense article from the gutter press. I have Bi-polar and suffer from a wide range of symptoms ranging from no emotional control to insomnia and what I refere to as phantom pain (all the scans showed little to no damage in the areas where pain originates). I am prescribed benzodiazepines for their hypnotic effect to help with sleep (I often dont sleep for days at a time without help). I have had dependency problems with various medications over the years and due to the nature in which mental health problems are combated I’ve been on loads of different meds and had to go through the months of coming off them to be put on something else that is just as bad and ineffective. I take up to 2100mg daily dependent on the severity of my symptoms my daily base dose is 1500mg semi sodium valproate, 200mg sertraline, 300mg quetiapine then when Im up in the air a benzo is added on top of that so that I get to sleep more than once a week. I rapid cycle ie more than 3 episodes a year, I can when I’m really bad go through the full emotional spectrum in as little as a week (I really dont like those weeks). Now Im not saying that cannabis cures me and would make it possible to stop filling my body with poisons but it does enable me to not take the added hypnotics and pain killers and lower my dosses which due to the high levels of medication I have to take just add to the nausea and carry the risk of addiction. Cannabis has enabled me to lower my anti psychotic doses so that I am more able to function normally it has helped combat my nausea so that I can actually eat a meal (after I was diagnosed my appetite dropped massively and the only thing I can see that changed was my medication regime). The phantom pain is dealt with, in fact the extreme’s of most of my symptoms are helped by my consumption of cannabis. Articles like this and biased research are of no use to anybody and been honest I dont think it convinces anybody other than those puritanical nutters who want us all to suffer or at least thats how the current bulls**t makes me feel. And as for driving I dont, my meds make it something I cant do anyway

  4. It’s not just Arthritis sufferers who get this mis-information. Try finding a cancer charity in the UK that gives any credence to the use of cannabis in cancer treatment. They must have some communication with people in America so they must know what is happening there with medical cannabis – but still they ignore it or worse still deny any potential benefits. That said the black market cannabis available in the UK is not the same thing as the range of well produced cannabis varieties and extracts available in the American medical dispensaries – but that is all the more reason why a medical interest group should campaign for regulation and legalisation.

  5. I agree with everything said,having puffed for 50 years, pain then eases up! brain pain,many pains. thanks for reading a.j.h.

  6. I agree with everything said by all,having puffed for 50 years, pain then eases up! brain pain,many pains. thanks for reading a.j.h.

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