When people talk about medical cannabis use, most people envision physical disabilities and life long diseases. While this is true, cannabis is used for chronic pain and depression which are not so easily visibly recognisable.
Having a diagnosed medical condition can give you a 1 in 10 chance of committing suicide
. What are the chances that the rates of this are higher when patients are unable to access the medicine that treats their condition because the law is preventing them?
If we take a look at the UK suicide statistics we can see that it is a concern that has drawn the attention of the Public Policy Exchange
, who state:
“There were 6188 recorded suicides in the UK in 2015 (ONS). Whilst men constitute three quarters of this total, with suicide being the leading cause of death in adult men under 50, it is also the biggest killer of all people aged between 10 and 34 (Public Health England). Whilst the emotional impact of suicide and bereavement is incalculable, the estimated economic cost of each death is estimated at £1.67m, in loss of productivity, service provision and care.”
– Public Policy Exchange, 2017
If we take a quick look at some international research that has been conducted on this very serious and important issue we might start to understand how access to medical cannabis has impacted these figures.
A University of Colorado economics professor has co-authored a study, just released by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany that concludes that suicide rates among young males declines markedly after states legalize medical marijuana. Professors at Montana State University and San Diego State University were also involved in the study. The study is titled “High on Life: Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide.”
“Using state-level data for the period 1990 through 2007, we estimate the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on suicide rates. Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males.”
– Institute for the Study of Labor, 2012
A 5 % reduction in the suicide rate to the UK statistics would mean 310 lives could be saved.
An 11% reduction in the suicide rate in the UK could save up to 680 lives.
If these lives are significant enough to worry about after they have died to want to do something about it, we need to look at the evidence published here by Professor Daniel Rees and make changes to our public policy that might save the lives of men and women of all ages.
Greg de Hoedt
Chairman, UK Cannabis Social Clubs