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.”
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.
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”
“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!”
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?