Councillor shares ‘life-changing expertise’ from medically-prescribed Hashish as she hopes to interrupt stigma
Laura Brennan-Whitefield, a councillor for Ayr north ward, believes Hashish must be prescribed extra extensively through the NHS to make sure individuals get the “greatest probability” in bettering their well being and well-being.
In 2018, the legislation was modified to permit docs to prescribe Hashish, nonetheless, it may well solely be prescribed by a specialist hospital physician with a license to take action.
The SNP councillor, who has had A number of Sclerosis (MS) for 12 years, mentioned she made the choice to make use of Hashish to deal with her ache as she didn’t need to go down a route of extra opiates that are chronically addictive and he or she was additionally uncertain if opiates would deal with her ache.
Ms Brennan-Whitefield, first elected in 2017, went by a type of chemotherapy to deal with her MS in 2017 and 2018, but, she solely observed “vital advantages” to her neuropathic pains when she began vaping medically-prescribed Hashish final yr.
The councillor went to the Sapphire Clinic, based mostly in Stirling, after being referred to the non-public healthcare facility by her GP.
Scotland‘s first medical hashish clinic, the ability started prescribing to sufferers affected by power ache situations in 2021.
The non-public clinic supplies unlicensed Hashish-based medicines for individuals with situations that don’t meet the standards for NHS-prescribed hashish merchandise.
A protracted-term campaigner for Hashish getting used for medicinal functions, Ms Brennan-Whitefield was prescribed “dried flower” – the plant – which she mentioned was “very efficient” and made “a transparent distinction” to her general well-being.
“I’m in far much less ache, I’ve far much less spasms and I’ve a much better high quality of life,” the councillor mentioned, “It takes these burning pains and turns them proper down. It has truthfully modified my life.
“It doesn’t work for everybody with a number of sclerosis but when it really works for some it typically works very nicely.”
Hashish can assist individuals by palliative care in addition to create ache aid for different situations together with arthritis and epilepsy.
Regardless of the advantages, Ms Brennan-Whitefield is all too conscious she was prescribed the drug through a personal clinic and he or she is aware of many individuals can not afford this.
“I pay one thing round £200 a month for this prescription and whereas I can not criticise the therapy I’ve had, I simply really feel like that costs individuals out.
“It comes at a considerable price and it’s not honest. I need to make individuals conscious it must be obtainable to those that want it.”
An enormous hurdle the councillor and lots of different individuals who take hashish for medicinal causes have needed to overcome is the taboo the drug is entrenched in.
“There may be nonetheless a large stigma round it,” mentioned the SNP councillor, ”There’s lots of people who’ve non-public hashish prescriptions however there’s not so much who’ve publicly mentioned they do.
“It’s seen as a gateway to different hardcore medication and the everyday ‘hippie’ stereotype however that’s not the case in any respect.”
Hashish is a Class B managed drug underneath Half II, Schedule 2, of the Misuse of Medication Act 1971. Beneath Schedule 2, it’s alongside treatment reminiscent of Ketamine and Fentanyl.
Solely three Hashish merchandise have been licensed by the UK-wide Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company (MHRA).
These are Sativex, which is used to deal with “extreme spasticity” in MS sufferers, Nabilone for chemotherapy-induced nausea and Epidyolex for uncommon types of childhood epilepsy.
Solely Epidyolex could be prescribed by the NHS in Scotland.
“The choice is to go to the black market. We’re speaking about probably the most susceptible individuals having to do that or getting their carers to do this,” mentioned the councillor, “That comes with its personal host of risks together with prosecution and also you don’t know what you might be getting.”
Ms Brennan-Whitefield has seen cross-party assist for her calls to make hashish extra accessible in a medicinal capability through the NHS.
Duncan Townson, a Scottish Labour Councillor in South Ayrshire, is supportive of her calls.
The councillor for Kyle ward mentioned: “My dad had lung most cancers and he died from that however when he was identified, it was too late for him to get chemotherapy and he wasn’t in a position to get the ache aid medical Hashish might have given him as he couldn’t afford to get the non-public prescription.
“If it helps the affected person, hashish must be prescribed.”
Mr Townson mentioned the Scottish Authorities ought to fee research on the drug to make sure it’s “optimistic impression” on a medical foundation is correctly thought of.
Bob Pollock, an ex-police officer and Conservative councillor, says he has seen a “dramatic enchancment” in his fellow councillor’s well-being and backs her requires hashish to be made extra accessible on a medical foundation if docs take into account it acceptable.
The councillor for Troon Ward mentioned: “I’m completely in opposition to Hashish on a leisure foundation however I absolutely assist its use in an accurate, medical setting the place there’s a clear profit from it.
“I discover it weird we’re comfortable to prescribe high-level opiates to individuals however we’re not ready to prescribe them with medical hashish.
“I’ve handled a number of opiate deaths throughout my time within the police however I’ve by no means as soon as seen somebody die straight from taking Hashish.”
Ms Brennan-Whitefield believes the NHS ought to usher in a protocol to prescribe the drug. She added it could be “worthwhile” to boost the problem in Holyrood.
The regulation, licensing and provide of medicines stay reserved to the UK Authorities, nonetheless, Mr Townson mentioned starting conversations in Scotland will appeal to extra consideration UK-wide.
Well being Secretary Humza Yousaf just lately met with UK Ministers to debate Scottish participation in UK-based scientific trials to assist construct the “proof base” for Hashish Based mostly Merchandise for Medicinal Use. A Scottish Authorities spokesperson mentioned issues round security, efficacy and the shortage of “sturdy proof” on the drug stay.