What does the NHS have to do with cannabis?
- by admin
NHS Health Minister Aileen Guerin says it’s vital the government considers legalising recreational cannabis to curb the number of people dying in hospital.
“Cannabis is not just a recreational drug, it is a medication, it’s a treatment, it has medical applications and we need to think about all of those,” Ms Guerin told Sky News.
The Health Minister says cannabis is a medicine and there are medicines for medical conditions that could be developed to help with its use.
The number of hospital admissions related to the use of cannabis in Australia has been falling since the mid-2000s, but Ms Guerins new stance means the health system could be hit with further cuts if the legislation is not passed.
“We’re not there yet, but there’s a lot of progress that needs to be made,” Ms Guin said.
“The evidence shows that cannabis is an effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions, and that is something that we’re looking at and we’re working on.”
The National Health and Medical Research Council has already said the evidence for cannabis as a medicine is “solid” and “sufficient to support the development of medicinal products”.
“Evidence is clear that the use and abuse of cannabis by individuals and cannabis plants has therapeutic potential,” the report states.
The National Drug Strategy will also be released on Friday, and has already seen a range of recommendations made.
The government’s plans are being met with concern from the industry.
“There’s still not a consensus on whether cannabis should be a drug, and we have to work with a broad range of stakeholders in order to make that decision,” Dr Michael O’Brien, a professor of psychiatry at Sydney’s Deakin University, told ABC News.
“That will take time and effort and we know the science behind that.”
He said the government’s strategy was not about the number or quality of evidence, but rather its potential impact on the wider community.
“It’s not a case of ‘can’t have it all’,” Dr O’Briensays.
“If you want to reduce the number you have to have the evidence.”
Dr Obert agrees.
“I think that we have enough evidence to suggest that cannabis can be a useful treatment for some medical conditions,” he says.
“And that’s the case with most medicines, not just cannabis.”
Dr Ober says a more comprehensive approach to cannabis is needed to deal with the issue of opioid misuse.
“For those people who have opioid dependency, it can be quite devastating, and I think we should do more to support them, but we also have to recognise that there are some people who can benefit from cannabis for their chronic pain,” he said.
The Government has been criticised for not including the use or abuse of other drugs in its medical advice, with the opposition calling for a “drugs for pain” package.
NHS Health Minister Aileen Guerin says it’s vital the government considers legalising recreational cannabis to curb the number of people…