PEOPLE in Worcester who use medicinal cannabis for pain are too worried about the stigma to speak openly about the benefits.
Tim Henley, who runs Worcester-based Access Kaneh, wants to educate people about the benefits and legality around medicinal cannabis.
Mr Henley’s business provides a free service for people to help them get legal access to cannabis.
He uses it himself for bad lower back pain and has credited it with “changing my life”.
However, he said there were still a way to go to remove the stigma and misinformation.
“In the city I know of two people who use medicinal cannabis while in Worcestershire there are six people.
“I asked and none of them want to talk to the newspaper because of the stigma.
“There is such a bad stigma they don’t want their neighbours to know they use medical cannabis.
“They don’t want to be branded some kind of strange person.
“In 2019 though there was about ten people using medicinal cannabis but now there are about 10,000 people in the UK using it.
“There has been a real growth in the last ten years.”
It is a long process for people to be able to be prescribed medicinal cannabis and Mr Henley wants to see changes to make it easier and more affordable.
A medical framework to allow access to medical cannabis was created in the UK on November 1, 2018.
Cannabis-based medical products can be offered as a treatment option only after a traditional pharmaceutical route has been exhausted and shown not to work or have side effects.
Medicinal cannabis cannot be smoked but instead can be vaporised as well as used in oils, sprays and topicals.
A prescription for medicinal cannabis is not available from most GPs but instead has to be prescribed by a specialist doctor.
The nearest consultants were in Solihull and pre-covid people would have to travel but with the rise of virtual consultations people have been able to speak to doctors from their home.
Currently, cannabis in the UK is supplied as a ‘special medicine’ and there are very few cases of it being made available on the NHS.
People are therefore having to turn to private medical cannabis clinics which can be too expensive for some.
“For me to have a consultation it is going to cost between £100 and £200 then you have to pay between £200 to £500 a month for the medication.
“Really it is an option of only last resort which is why it hasn’t moved forward like it should,” explained Mr Henley.
While people may have heard of the benefits of cannabis, My Henley believes the misconceptions about medical cannabis may be pushing people towards dealers.
Non medicinal cannabis is currently a Class B drug.
“If you asked 100 people I believe 60 to 70 wouldn’t know you could legally use cannabis.
“That’s part of my job – it is absolutely legally available.
“With the current state of affairs any [illegal drug] dealer in Worcester would happily sell to a 16-year-old no questions asked.”
Image: Unsplashed Elsa Olofsson