The reaction of ordinary Ukrainians to the words „hemp” or „cannabis” is predictable and unambiguous: it is a drug, drugs are bad, and everyone knows about it. However, if you look at the world and its development, it is very difficult to break down stereotypes and move forward.
Over the past few years, scientists who are researching cannabis, have discovered the unique healing properties of this plant. The results have led to a massive change in legislation in many Western countries. Earlier the cultivation, storage and use of cannabis products were punished with fines, community service, and even imprisonment, today legislators in the United States of America, Canada, Belgium, France, the Czech Republic, and other countries of the Western world adopt more tolerant laws.
In the United States, for example, quite a few states (among them the largest state in the country, California) have made changes to the legislation on soft drugs, thereby legalizing them. Canada and other countries went the same way. At the same time, the cultivation, processing and use of cannabis are controlled by the state, drug dealers lose huge illegal profits, and taxes from the sale of marijuana (billions of dollars) fill the state budget.
And how about Ukraine? We would not discuss whether it is legal to take “weed” or not. We are concerned about another aspect: the use of cannabis for medical purposes. For us, this topic is not just urgent and painful – the problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible, because in Ukraine a huge number of sick people suffer from pain, without receiving at all (or with great difficulty) effective painkillers. As a rule, for this purpose they use such a narcotic substance as morphine. But it quickly causes a strong dependence.
The best alternative today is cannabis medicine. Doctors who have to deal with seriously ill patients, representatives of public organizations who deal with issues of medical care, and, of course, relatives of those who suffer from pain and are unable to receive adequate assistance, are inclined to believe this.
The most active development of drugs based on cannabis are conducted in the United States, Canada, and Israel. Long-term research has allowed scientists to develop truly effective drugs that fight serious illnesses. Alas, Ukrainian scientists still do not have the opportunity to participate in this process, because Ukraine has banned the use of cannabis.
Here is a list of the main diseases, cannabis derivatives are successfully used in civilized countries to treat them.
Epilepsy. There is a high impact of such treatment – the number of attacks decreases by more than 50 percent.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys the human psyche. The number of patients (mostly elderly people) is growing every year. The disease is still considered incurable, but cannabinoids significantly slow down its development and there is hope that, over time, effective medicines will be created based on this component of cannabis.
Multiple sclerosis. Nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord suffer, muscle spasms occur, leading to severe mental and physical disorders. The use of drugs that contain cannabinoids greatly facilitates the condition of patients.
Oncological diseases. In the United States and in Israel, cannabinoids are used both to treat certain types of cancer and to reduce pain. The results are pretty encouraging.
In addition, cannabis might be used for curing hepatitis C, type 2 diabetes, and they also contribute to lowering cholesterol, thereby preventing the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Ukraine should join the research conducted in the world laboratories, and for this we should immediately change the legislation to give our scientists the opportunity to conduct scientific work and use medical cannabis for treatment and palliative care.
Question: is our society ready for this? Totally, Ukrainians are not ready for it, but this issue should not be considered hopeless. So, in April last year (2018), the first international medical cannabis conference in our country was held in Kharkiv. It was attended by both doctors (173 specialists) and patients who were treated with cannabinoids (70 people).
The fact is that cannabis has a huge number of components, including tetrahydrocannabinol (it causes the psychotropic effect) and cannabidiol, which practically does not contain narcotic compounds.
Both substances are used for treatment. Medicines made on the basis of tetrahydrocannabinol, often lead to negative consequences (anxiety, panic attacks, tachycardia or arrhythmia) than those drugs, which are based on cannabidol. However, with the right use and control of doctors, the negative effect is reduced.
Now it is necessary to respond very quickly to the demand of the society – it means that a whole series of changes should be made to the existing laws in order to untie our farmers and finally give the opportunity to grow medical cannabis.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.