Medical cannabis is used in many countries as we explained in the article on cannabis legislation in the world. But who are the beneficiaries and why do they use it?
What do we know about medical cannabis?
Unfortunately, there is relatively little research on the effects of medical cannabis, as it has long been prohibited. In Switzerland, the Federal Council authorised pilot projects in October 2018 to test the effects of cannabis on consumers. Until then, considered only a narcotic, it was forbidden to use it even for scientific research. There are already some empirical and clinical studies, but they will increase in the coming years. This website brings together many observations and research on different pathologies such as parkinson, epilepsy or chronic pain.
While scientific studies are not as advanced as other therapeutic molecules, cannabis is recognized as effective. It is also proven that some medications are much more dangerous and are still prescribed. Many people use it instead of opioids, such as morphine, which is highly addictive and can cause death in the event of an overdose. On the other hand, it is impossible to die from over-consumption of cannabis flowers by smoking them. There is sufficient knowledge about cannabis in terms of the toxicity of the product and its effectiveness for it to be put on the market like any other drug. In addition, it is normal for clinical studies to continue after a marketing. U.S., Canadian, Israeli and German health authorities believe that there is sufficient knowledge on the subject to prescribe it.
Thus, if patients experience an improvement in their condition and it is less dangerous than drugs traditionally prescribed for their pathology, there is no medical reason not to use it, even if few clinical studies exist on the subject.
Who uses medical cannabis?
Lots of people. First of all cannabis has anti-vomiting, analgesic, anxiolytic, relaxing, sleeping pills, painkillers, appetite-boosting and anticonvulsive properties. Based on the recommendations in Canada, cannabis may be prescribed by a physician for a very large number of the disorders that we cite below.
For which pathologies is cannabis prescribed?
- Reducing vomiting during chemotherapy
- Helping with weight gain for patients with AIDS, cancer or anorexia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic and acute pain.
- Arthritides and musculoskeletal disorders such as gout, arthritis or fibromyalgia.
- Movement disorders (Huntington, Parkinson’s, Gilles de La Tourette syndrome…)
- Stress and psychiatric disorders
- Anxiety, sleep disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and opioid withdrawal, schizophrenia
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Inflammation of the skin (psoriasis, dermatitis…)
- Gastrointestinal disorder
- Liver disease: hepatitis, fibrosis…
- Pancreas: diabetes, pancreatitis
- Metabolic: Obesity, Diabetes
- More generally when it helps to improve the quality of life: helps to sleep, relaxing, anti-vomit, etc.
Finally this plant has the advantage of potentially being able to replace many drugs, sometimes fatal. In the United States, in states where medical cannabis is legal, there are 14.5 fewer medical prescriptions for opioids than in others (of which 20.7 fewer prescribed morphine). This resulted between 1990 and 2010 to 24.8 fewer overdose deaths in states where cannabis is legalcompared to others over the same period. In a country where opiates kill more than 40,000 people each year and 40 people were onprescription at the time of the overdose, the stakes of medical cannabis are high.
Can medical cannabis be prescribed in Switzerland?
no. Currently, it is impossible to obtain cannabis in the form of flowers by a doctor, because Swiss law does not allow it. However, there is Sativex, which is a drug derived from cannabis molecules. To get it, you have to have multiple sclerosis, suffer from plastic hypertonia and not react to other medications. Therefore, not all patients with multiple sclerosis can benefit from it, and it is prescribed as a last resort. The Federal Council and the National Council are open to medical cannabis being prescribed in the case of other diseases, but the Council of States has yet to decide. At present, it is impossible to speculate for which pathologies Switzerland will allow the prescription of cannabis.
Is it possible to use medical cannabis in Switzerland?
yes. Cannabis with low THC (less than 1) is over-the-counter in Switzerland. Fortunately, it is the CBD molecule that is responsible for the main effects of medical cannabis that is legal in Switzerland. However, THC is being studied for other properties, notably for its anti-cancer effects on cells and animals, and is already used in Sativex for multiple sclerosis. We detail what CBD is in another article.
It is deplorable that patients cannot obtain expert advice to use cannabis. Left to their own devices, the treatment is experimental. In Canada, for example, doctors prescribe specific levels of different cannabinoids depending on the patient. They follow him and adjust the dosage as part of a full medical treatment.
We recommend these three reports, presenting various trajectories of people who have used medical cannabis to better understand its usefulness.
An investigation by Belgian television RTBF into patients illegally and legally procuring medical cannabis:
A report by Swiss television RTS on CBD for therapeutic use:
Report on ARTE on medical cannabis and these current legal uses: