SCOTLAND is set for a multi-million pound boon from the cannabis industry after a worldwide health agency confirmed that the drug provides medicinal relief for a range of ailments.
Researchers have examined the health properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) – which is the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – and ruled that there is now evidence to support claims it may help treat epilepsy and “a number of other medical conditions”.
Available legally on the open market, CBD is often administered in the form of oils, drops or capsules.
Last month, a World Health Organisation report revealed that CBD oils may help successfully treat symptoms relating to Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, MS, pain, anxiety, depression, cancer and diabetic complications.
Furthermore, research suggests that Cannabidiol oil – whose legal classification will be debated next year in the Scottish Parliament – may be a successful an anti-inflammatory as well as encouraging the release and uptake of dopamine and serotonin.
Now, cannabis oil producers in Scotland believe the WHO ruling will provide a fillip to the UK industry, which already serves a 250,000-strong community, according to the Cannabis Trades Association UK.
David Lewington, of CDB oil supplier Scothemp, based in West Lothian, said the Scottish farmers had become interested in large-scale cultivation of hemp from which the ‘medicinal’ oil can be produced.
“Several farmers are in talks about growing hemp but there is still a reputational drawback that puts many off,” he said. “I believe that would change if the health benefits were accepted and the products licensed as such.”
“We are a bit behind countries such as the USA and Australia at the moment, but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are currently carrying out their own investigation so they could change their current guidance.
Speaking about the WHO ruling, Mr Lewington said: “This is potentially very good news and could see Scotland become a major producer of hemp based products.
“The industry already turns over £50million and supports more than 200 jobs but if we are allowed to market the products as having medicinal benefits then the impact could be huge.”
Tony Calamita, of London-based supplier Love Hemp said: “The cannabis oil market has exploded in the last 12 months and we are seeing an increasing demand for our products.
“We welcome the WHO report and are not surprised by its findings.”
According to the WHO “cannabidiol should not be scheduled for international control on the basis of current evidence, and that a fuller review will be carried out next year, when other cannabinoids are discussed.”
The organisation’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) found “no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Drug can be used to ease the symptons for a variety of conditions
HERE is how the CBD is being used in medicine worldwide:
This is the only condition for which cannabis can be used legally in the UK. MS sufferers have been able to get Sativex – an oral spray containing the drug – which has only been prescribed by a handful of doctors due to its cost since 2010. It started being trialled in hospitals a year later.
Users say cannabis helps control painful tightening muscle spasms, chronic pain and, in certain cases, can help them keep mobile.
Cannabis can treat and prevent the eye disease that increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve. Smoking the drug can decrease pressure inside the eye and help prevent blindness, says the National Eye Institute.
Stories of cannabis helping seizures have been around for 150 years, but a recent study by New York University’s Langone Medical Centre found a third of patients with a treatment resistant epilepsy had fewer seizures when they were given an extract of 99 per cent cannabidiol alongside their medication. Since Canada’s new drug rules were brought in last year, cannabis can now be used in hospitals for epilepsy sufferers.
Cannabis has been shown to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in arthritis sufferers. A Nottingham University study, in collaboration with two US universities, found cannabinoid can help reduce pain in arthritis suffers without activating any psychological or pharmaceutical effects.
A 2014 study by Professor Gary Wenk, of Ohio State University, showed moderate use of cannabis can help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.
He said: “Using low doses for prolonged periods of time at some point in your life, possibly when you’re middle-aged to late middle-aged, is probably going to slow the onset or development of dementia – to the point where you’ll most likely die of old age before you get Alzheimer’s.”
Deryn Blackwell was initially given cannabis to treat anxiety. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found the drug can cut anxiety in small doses, but excessive use can cause paranoia. Cannabis is legally used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in some US states.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Sufferers from inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, could benefit from cannabis use.
Nottingham University found its chemicals including cannabidiol and tetrahydro-cannabinol, interact with cells that play an important role in gut function and immune responses.
Studies appear to show the drug can reduce the size of the brain area affected by a stroke and other neurological conditions, like concussion.