Tuesday, May 16, 2017

COMMENT: Cannabis is high on the agenda

By Rob Shipley
Source: jerseyeveningpost.com


IF it was good enough for Queen Victoria, it is surely good enough for the people of Jersey.

What are we talking about? Cannabis, but not resin or the herbal variety. We are, in fact, talking about medicinal cannabis, a remedy that appears to have a role in treating conditions as diverse as chronic back pain and multiple sclerosis, and may be available here later this year.

Famously, the Dear Old Queen was prescribed a tincture of cannabis to ease cramps associated with gynaecological problems, so she probably sipped something from one of those little Victorian medicine bottles that have become collectors’ items.

It is, however, hard to banish a mental picture of Her Majesty toking on a big fat joint – perhaps touted by her dealer as an Osborne House Carrot.

Far from being unamused, she might well have been very amused indeed as she was overcome by fits of the giggles.

There is, meanwhile, ample evidence that the tincture, as well as the smoked variety, may lead to fits of the munchies. By the time of her death, the Queen Empress had the dimensions of a small barrage balloon.

But Victoria was not the only British monarch to have been involved with cannabis. In 1563 Queen Elizabeth I ordered all landowners with more than 60 acres at there disposal to plant hemp, though this might have had more to do with rope-making than recreational drug use.

That said, some of the hemp – one of the many names for cannabis – seems to have found its way into the hands of William Shakespeare, or at least the hands, and lungs, of a member of his household. Clay pipes recovered from the garden of Shakespeare’s Stratford home have yielded traces of the drug.

Other historical figures who are associated with cannabis include George Washington, who used it to combat the pain caused by bad teeth, and Joan of Arc, who was accused of using ‘witch herbs’. So that’s where the voices came from.

It is amusing to speculate about historical stoners, but, as the many people who believe that they would benefit from medicinal cannabis will testify, present-day non-recreational use is a serious matter.

Now, thanks to Health Minister Andrew Green and his advisers, some cannabis products seem likely to be added to the armoury of medications available in the Island. Who could take issue with this? The medical profession here and throughout the world has long made necessary use of opiates, drugs which, in terms of potential harm are to cannabis as a nuclear bomb is to a penny banger.

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