Cannabis on prescription – the future of medical marijuana | DW medicine Documentary
Published on 16 Sep 2018
Cannabis on prescription – the future of medical marijuana | DW medicine Documentary
Published on 16 Sep 2018
Mum battling brain tumour appeals to Home Secretary after medical cannabis rejection
A MUM fighting a brain tumour has made an emotional appeal to the Home Secretary after her application for medicinal cannabis was rejected, despite her belief the drug has helped keep her alive for three years.
Caroline Burns asked to be referred to an expert panel launched by Sajid Javid to sanction prescription of the drug in exceptional cases.
His landmark announcement, when he also promised specialist doctors would be able to prescribe cannabis oil by the autumn, came in a blaze of publicity after the plight of two young boys, whose severe epilepsy was controlled by the outlawed drug, emerged.
But when Caroline, who spends at least £1,000 a month importing medicinal cannabis to treat her tumour, asked doctors to forward her application to the expert panel they refused.
Her oncologists at Glasgow’s Beatson cancer centre said there was no published evidence of the benefits of cannabis, too many uncertainties over cannabis-based products, and no official guidelines about how it should be taken.
Now she has written to the Home Secretary warning him his scheme is not working.
Her fears are echoed by other patients across Britain who say that applications are being refused or obstructed because clinicians and health authorities are unwilling to recommend the use of medicinal cannabis, and because the panel’s criteria are too strict.
Former council worker Caroline, 35, said: “I find myself writing to the Home Secretary pleading for my life.
“When the expert panel was announced, it gave me real hope. However, if doctors do not feel able to refer patients to the panel, it means nothing.
“We have been promised medicinal cannabis and when we try to put it into practice we are denied. It’s a sham.
“All I ask is that I am kept alive to see my son Jack grow up.
“If the Home Secretary meant the panel to have any significance, he needs to prove it.”
Doctors warned Caroline she may have only three months to live but she has made remarkable progress since she began taking cannabis, with her tumour shrinking by 26%.
However, the cannabis costs her family between £1,000 and £1,500 a month to buy. Caroline’s dad, Pat O’Hara, added: “My daughter has been kept alive for three years after a terminal diagnosis gave her three months.
“There are also medical trials which prove it works.
“But it appears that the doctors do not have guidance on how to use it.”
Earlier this month, it emerged that just two applications for severely ill children to have medicinal cannabis had been approved since the Home Office licensing system was introduced, with a third approval before the scheme was set up.
The Home Office refused to update those figures but a leading oncologist closely involved said he believed it had not changed.
Newcastle neurologist Professor Mike Barnes said doctors were reluctant to make referrals to the panel.
He added: “Many patients who need it are not able to get their specialists to forward proposals.
“It is difficult for people like Caroline, who are pioneers in using medicinal cannabis.
“I am launching an academy of medicinal cannabis in November to offer training to doctors.”
In July, Mr Javid said medicinal cannabis should be made available on prescription for the first time after a public outcry over the cases of 13-year-old Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, seven, both of whom needed it to control severe epilepsy.
Alfie’s mother, Hannah Deacon, 39, said the scheme had worked for her son, but she knew of a number of other patients who could not get their doctors to forward their applications.
Peter Carroll, director of End Our Pain, a medicinal cannabis campaign group, said it had requested information on how many patients had been referred to the panel.
“The Government told us the numbers were too small,” he said. “They could not say how many in case the patients were easily identified.”
MP Philippa Whitford, a cancer surgeon who is on Westminster’s all-party parliamentary group on cannabis, said: “Scotland and the UK have been instrumental in research which has brought many drug breakthroughs.
“However, there has been little research into medicinal cannabis in the UK. Other drugs like opiates and other pain killers are available to patients who need them. There is encouraging evidence that medicinal cannabis works for some medical conditions.
“Patients are under tremendous pressure to access it and those who need it should be able to.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We completely sympathise with the families who have been facing desperate situations as they try to find treatment.
“In July the Home Secretary committed to swift action on behalf of those whose medical conditions could potentially be eased by cannabis-based products and we have announced that cannabis-based products for medicinal use will be available for specialist doctors to prescribe legally from the autumn.
“Any proposed course of treatment with cannabis-based medicine must be clinically led,” the spokesperson added.
Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, which runs the Beatson, said that due to patient confidentiality it was unable to comment on patient’s individual cases.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The expert panel was established in June to advise UK ministers on medicinal cannabis licence applications made by senior clinicians on behalf of patients.
“The decision on whether to make an application to the panel is purely one for the treating clinician,” they added.
“However, it is important the NHS in Scotland is involved in the development of clinical guidelines in this area to support doctors and make sure prescribed products are safe and effective, including for children.”
The letter to Sajid Javid
Dear Home Secretary,
I am a brain tumour patient who is being kept alive by medicinal cannabis. Your promise to allow patients medicinal cannabis, when they desperately need it for a medical condition, was welcomed by many people like me.
However, my application for medicinal cannabis has not been forwarded to the expert panel because I cannot get two senior clinicians to endorse it. It is heartbreaking to be told that I cannot be considered because the right protocols have not been put in place.
Since taking a laboratory-tested THC version of cannabis in 2015, my scans have improved. My tumour has stabilised instead of the expected growth. I am still alive and here for my husband, Gary, and son, Jack.
I am still alive three years after being given less than a year. The median survival rates and life expectancy for a glioblastoma brain tumour patient is 15 to 16 months for people who get surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I was unable to complete more than one session of chemotherapy because of adverse side effects.
My medicinal cannabis is taken with Sativex, the medicinal cannabis drug, which is prescribed privately. These are the only drugs I take. Medicinal cannabis is costing me £1,000 a month to import from Canada.
As you can imagine, this is a considerable burden on my family but it is the price of staying alive.
A previous application for medicinal cannabis, under the European Medicines Agency’s compassionate use/named person scheme, was also refused.
Can you assist please, by putting into place a way for doctors to prescribe me medicinal cannabis?
Ex-Playboy Bunny uses cannabis oil to treat brain tumour after REFUSING chemotherapy
Former Miss UK Kerri Parker has refused chemotherapy and risks a potential five-year jail term or unlimited fine for using THC
Former Playboy bunny Kerri Parker has refused chemotherapy and is fighting brain cancer with illegal cannabis oil.
The beauty queen risks a potential five-year jail term or unlimited fine for using THC, the component in cannabis which makes users feel high.
She chose the drug rather than face 12 gruelling rounds of chemo which were scheduled to start tomorrow.
Her battle comes over four years after surgeons removed a tumour which bizarrely altered her personality.
Instead of mixing with the likes of Hugh Hefner and Leonardo DiCaprio she found herself staying in, curled up on the sofa.
Devastated Kerri, 34, was told by doctors this month her cancer was back and that her best hope was chemo and radiotherapy.
But Kerri – a former lab technician from Norwich – said: “My chemo team wanted me to have 10-12 cycles but went on to tell me that no one with brain cancer has managed to have the full lot.
“I know using cannabis means I could be put in prison but I truly believe it is the only chance I have of living right now.
“I’ve been working hard over the past few years. I’m training for a black belt in martial arts and I’m the fittest and healthiest I’ve been, so when doctors say they want me to have treatment which will make me sick, it makes no sense to me.
“I don’t want my hair to fall out from chemo, or my face burned from radiotherapy. I train daily, run a model academy and a nutrition business and I don’t want having cancer to affect all of this.
“Cannabis has helped many others with cancer. I’m willing to put faith in it too. I can’t imagine any judge would convict a girl for using cannabis to save her life. It’s a risk I’m ready to take.”
THC use is unlawful in the UK but Kerri is getting it imported from Spain – where it is legal.
She expected a barrage of criticism from pals but added: “Not a single person said I’d made the wrong decision. My family are in support. Mum told me from day one she doesn’t want me having chemo. She fully believes we can beat this cancer ourselves.”
Kerri had already taken CBD oil for six months in the hope of preventing cancer returning. She has taken oil with a high percentage of THC for a fortnight and is seeing some side-effects.
She went on: “I was taking CBD oil as a preventer and it may well have slowed down the cancer, who knows.
Now I’m taking THC oil I feel ill. It’s lowering my already super-low blood pressure and I have brain fog, dizziness, reduced sympathetic nervous system, weakness and an increased heart rate – normal symptoms, I’m told.
“I’m praying my body adapts as I have to up my daily dosage nearly 10 times if I’m going to get rid of cancer.
“I’d take feeling like this over chemo and radiotherapy any day. It’s my only hope of surviving.”
Before cancer, Kerri led a glamorous lifestyle mingling with the stars. She posed for Playboy, became a Playboy bunny and lived the high life at Hugh Hefner’s LA mansion.
She was also a movie body double for Megan Fox and won a raft of beauty titles – including versions of Miss UK. But cancer has played havoc with her life.
The People told in 2014 how, after surgery, Kerri no longer enjoyed parties. She became an introvert, preferring nights in.
Doctors said she suffered bizarre mental side-effects which can affect brain surgery patients.
Scans later came up clear and her confident personality returned.
Kerri took up modelling again and did martial arts, rallying and stunt work. She raises funds for Brain Tumour Research – and has run the London Marathon. But a charity trek to Everest base camp is on hold.
Kerri is also taking advice from Callie Blackwell, who gave her 12-year-old son illegal cannabis after he was given days to live.
He recovered and is now 18 and in remission from cancer.
Justin Stebbing, Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology at Imperial College London, said: “Patients refuse chemo for all sorts of reasons – a decision I’d respect – but to say cannabis oils could help prolong survival of brain cancer would be a push. Cannabis does have painkilling effects but it doesn’t actually have any anti-cancer properties.”
Cancer Research UK declined to comment on Kerri’s case. But their website says: “There isn’t enough reliable evidence to prove cannabis can effectively treat cancer.
Bristol police officer admits to smoking weed before taking drugs test
The former neighbourhood officer in Knowle West and Filwood will face a misconduct hearing
A former police constable is set to come before a misconduct panel after admitting to using cannabis before she took a drugs test.
PC Harriet Wood, who used to be the neighbourhood beat manager in Filwood and Knowle West, told her chief inspector she had been smoking cannabis.
On April 3, PC Wood submitted a sample for a test to determine if she had consumed controlled drugs.
Three days later, she cracked and told her inspector she had been using cannabis and had done so until a week before her admission.
The results of the drugs test showed that at the time of testing, there were no controlled drugs within her system.
PC Wood has been asked to attend a misconduct hearing on Friday, October 5 at the police headquarters in Portishead.
A statement from Avon and Somerset police read: “Notwithstanding the negative drug test result, PC Wood confirmed that she had used cannabis whilst holding the office of constable.
“Such conduct breached the following standards of professional behaviour, [namely] orders and instructions and discreditable conduct.”
The hearing will be held in public this coming week.
Judge rules 5-year-old can bring marijuana-based drug to school
Published on 29 Sep 2018
Police find almost 200 cannabis plants after swooping on property
Staffordshire Police has confirmed that electricity had been bypassed to power the illicit operation
Police uncovered almost 200 cannabis plants during a raid this morning.
Officers swooped on the property on Dividy Road, Bucknall, where a man has also been arrested.
The force has confirmed that electricity had been bypassed to power the illicit operation.
A total of 196 cannabis plants were found.
Chief Inspector John Owen, commander for Stoke-on-Trent North, was pleased with the result.
He said: “We find that with these operations there is not only a fire risk but also associated anti-social behaviour.
“I am pleased with the action we have taken here and would urge anyone with concerns over drug use and supply to contact the police and let us deal with it.”
Anyone with information should call the force on 101.