By Sam Armstrong
It seems like every week these days, various media outlets run a story on yet another scandal regarding the care industry in the United Kingdom. Cuts are up, staff are working unsociable hours for unreasonable pay, often unable to spend valuable one to one time with their service users, all ranging from young adults with learning difficulties, disabled adults and the elderly members of our communities who for varying medical reasons require the support, love and compassion of thousands of men and women throughout this country (many of which volunteer) to help them to live more comfortable and more independent lives.
Some of you will know that I myself have a years experience as a Support Worker for adults with learning difficulties and since moving to Leeds have undertaken work as a Healthcare Assistant in a care home for the elderly. I am enthusiastic about both my current and previous job, however, sadly, I have witnessed the shortcomings of privatisation and public sector cuts and the suffering which comes as a consequence of this. As someone who cares greatly about humanity as a whole and in particular for those people who are at a disadvantage to the majority of us, be it through mental or physical impairment. How can a healthy society justify failing to look after some of our most vulnerable citizens and their carers, when huge multinational corporations overlook taxes and bankers gamble our own savings on hedonistic spins of the roulette wheel?
After working in this sector for a while, I came to consider how cannabis might be able to help people (both service users and staff) to achieve what they desire. I did a bit of asking around and was pointed towards a few articles on the idea. One in particular caught my attention, about Hedarim, a nursing home in Israel, where medicinal cannabis researched and film maker Zach Klein and his team decided to test the benefits of medicinal cannabis on the residents. You can read about the study here; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130124123453.htm
The 19 subjects of the test were aged between 69 and 101 and were treated with cannabis in the form of oil, vapour, powder or smoke, three times a day over a two week period. The intention was to treat a variety of conditions including muscle spasms, tremors, chronic pain and loss of appetite. Staff at the care home and researchers were also asked to observe and comment on the overall well-being of the residents based on mood, ease in performing everyday activities and social interaction.
The effects were far more impressive than expected. For once, administration of other medications was significantly reduced, 72% of patients reduced their pharmaceutical drug intake by an average of 1.7 medications a day. 17 patients were noted to have achieved a healthy weight (either increasing or decreasing appropriately) and there was a significant reduction in tremors, spasms and post-traumatic stress related flashbacks and nightmares. Sleep time was also increased significantly.
This year it is being reported that Israeli nursing homes are now being encouraged to seriously consider cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. Cannabis is both incredibly more cost efficient and has far less undesirable side effects.
IT is a possibility for all of us that we may one day have to go into care and so it is important that we as society do the utmost to ensure today’s elderly generation (as well as all the other people in the UK requiring care) are kept in comfort. As always we must treat others as we would want to be treated. Imagine if we became too ill to live at home with our loved ones – a stressfull experience as it is without the prospect of losing your herbal medication!
It is my wish and even my expectation that one day high quality cannabis will be available to all people in the United Kingdom but just consider for one moment the huge impact this medicine could have on the general suffering, anxiety, confusion, pain and misery of people in this country who are unable to read this article, who are unable to have the discussion with us and join the fight. Join me in smoking your next joint and hitting your next bowl for the stoners who don’t know they are stoners, the sick and dying men, women and even children who have no idea that they could medicate with cannabis if nothing more than to be a bit happier in their last few days, if it wasn’t for the disgusting oppression of cannabis and its users (both prospective and current) in the United kingdom and all across the world.
Times will change and all we can do is spread the love. To those of us who have sick or ill friends and relatives all we can do is try to help them and try to show them some of the benefits cannabis has to offer.
I will leave you with a delightful video I saw a couple of years ago which always entertains me. Watch as an elderly American gentleman who has never used any drugs uses cannabis for the first time (after trying to light the pipe like a crack pipe…), he then goes for a walk and notices that, for example, the traffic seems louder. He remarks that he guesses that just means his hearing’s improved!
Thanks for reading, and a happy belated Halloweed!