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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 12:31 GMT
Should cannabis be prescribed?

Research carried out on more than 600 patients has confirmed the belief of some multiple sclerosis sufferers that cannabis-based drugs can ease their symptoms.

In the trials which were funded by the Medical Research Council, some patients were given capsules containing a cannabis extract while others were given a placebo.

After 15 weeks, it was discovered that although there was no detectable change in those taking cannabis, the substance was said to have improved their physical symptoms.

Many MS patients have claimed that smoking cannabis relieves some of the symptoms of their condition with some being prepared to break the law to obtain the substance.

Should cannabis be prescribed for medical purposes? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

If it is clinically proven to relieve suffering then why not? Drug abuse is the problem not use of drugs in a proper manner.

This topic was suggested by Bill, Redditch, England
Cannabis and MS - what do you think?

Of course it should! But it won't be until the large pharmaceuticals can distribute all forms.
Rod Buckham, Canada

I have been suffering from spondylosis and arthritis for 30 years and take cannabis for the pain which it greatly relieves. I drink it in a black tea form and if I do without it for a week or so I am in agony all over my body. So I know it really helps and should be used as a pain killing drug, also it should be made legal for genuine suffering patients.
Veronica, England

It amazes me that people can buy drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol that could end up killing you and you can't have something which is proven to help - it's plain crazy. I suffer from MS and I would jump at the chance to lead a better life, so I'm all for it.
Steve Lummis, UK

Morphine, which is a refined form of the class A drug Heroin, is used for medical purposes. And yet cannabis is only something like a class C and isn't? And there are far more dangerous medicines proscribed by doctors every day than cannabis. Just take a read of the side-effects on the leaflet of your next prescription.
Mark, UK

Yes - this should be allowed - I believe that Cannabis does help those in pain. This should be legalized as this is a cheap pain killer - but if it made legal then we must find a way to produce this legally also which will create a whole new category of drug production.
Lise DB, Canada

Still debating the legal consumption of cannabis in 2003. There's is something wrong in our society. Cannabis should not be considered an offended drug but only a restricted product such as alcohol or tobacco. As a matter of fact, Cannabis should be legalized. Not tobacco.
Sylvain Matte, Canada

There are so many drugs that prove much more effective in treating above-mentioned negative effects of Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy and MS medication. Let's not forget the harmful effects of Cannabis' constituents including brain cells swelling up to 400 times their normal size, along with impaired auto-immune system. This has nothing to do with whether Cannabis is purchased from a Pharmacy or from a street dealer, or whether one uses it for medicinal or recreational use.
Adam C, USA

I firmly believe it should be cleared for medicinal use
Matthew, UK
My father suffered from MS and endured an appalling degree of pain and muscle spasms as a result. He used cannabis for the last couple of years of his life, and it certainly gave him a great deal of relief from his symptoms. In fact, I would go so far as to say it improved his quality of life enormously. I have always been, and still remain, opposed to the use of cannabis for recreation but given the help it was to my father, I firmly believe it should be cleared for medicinal use.
Matthew, UK

Since some of the main pain killers used by the NHS are derived from cocaine and opium, cannabis derivatives should also be freely available. But let's not kid ourselves, other than those few in real pain, most of the champions of this type of medicine are so vociferous about it because they like to get high and think that this will lead to the acceptance of their habit.
Chris Hollett, UK

They should prescribe it to everyone as a remedy for having to live in Blair's Britain.
Phil, UK

Yes, everyone should be allowed the opportunity to try cannabis. If it helps to give relief to just one symptom that would be something. I have had MS for about 15 years and basically the attitude of the medical profession is, you have your diagnosis get on with it.
Margaret, England

There are so many prescribed drugs which are far more potent than cannabis, yet there is never a question about their effective relief from suffering. So why this continuing problem with canabis?. If it gives relief to MS sufferers then what right do the government or any other authority have to deny them of that. It seems to have become a case of some stupid authoritarian principle rather than common sense. However, I certainly do not agree with legalising it for social use.
Mike Wanstall, UK

The prescribing of Cannabis, or anything else for that matter, should be a clinical and not a political issue.
Andrew Witham, UK

People who have symptoms of MS need something to help them
No drama. Just allow people to be prescribed medicinal cannabis. The extract mentioned does not get people 'stoned' - so where is the argument against it? People who have symptoms of MS need something to help them.

Your health stories often appear one-sided. I do hope you will give equal prominence to the adverse effects of cannabis. It is now very clear, from large Dutch studies, that cannabis doubles the risk of schizophrenia, for instance. It is also considerably involved in road accidents and other problems depending on behaviour alteration.

It strikes me that confusing medicinal use with recreational use is naive at best and malicious at worst. If a substance gives benefit to those suffering, it should be made available to them. Arguments about recreational use have no relevance.
Geoff Taylor,UK

If MS patients believe it helps them, then yes of course. I have MS which is not too bad at the moment, but if it worsens I'd like to be able to relieve the pain.
Ian, UK

As long as it's in tablet form I really can't see the issue. It's no different to any other herbal remedy.
Chris D, UK

Yes it should be prescribed and also should be legalised! It helps so many people yet they are penalised for using this substance, it is so unfair. I have mobility problem and get a lot of joint pain. Cannabis does help the pain yet if I want this drug I have to go to dealers on the street.
Anon, Scotland

Cannabis 'cut MS symptoms'
07 Nov 03  |  Health

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