In order to unpack the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis, one must look to the history of cannabis itself and its position in society. According to the World Health Organisation, cannabis is “the most commonly cultivated, trafficked, and abused illicit drug worldwide.” Conflicting information from health care professionals regarding the effects of long term cannabis use can be a hindrance to those seeking pain relief for chronic conditions.
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years with evidence of a cannabis trade from China to Korea, and was originally introduced to Australia in the form of hemp with the first fleet arriving from England. Due to the psychoactive effects of THC (which is not always a chemical used in medicinal cannabis products), many health organisations, politicians, and general members of communities urge caution when it comes to cannabis and even medicinal cannabis.
This stigma supports the general inaccessibility of medicinal cannabis in Australia, which can impact negatively on individuals desperately seeking pain relief from chronic conditions including Epilepsy and Arthritis. A common myth sees individuals who use medical cannabis as addicts, or individuals who are dependent on the drug. However, medical cannabis is a regulated and carefully manufactured product created for the sole purpose of alleviating pain for a specific condition.
This myth is often spread by those who cannot empathise with those who experience a high level of pain on an everyday basis. It is important to note that medicinal cannabis cannot be interpreted as a “gateway drug” nor is it thought of as a miracle treatment for chronic conditions. With careful consideration of prescription requirements, certain individuals with chronic pain could benefit from using a medicinal cannabis product.