We are currently in the midst of a revolution surrounding illegal drugs. Along with a handful of other US states, the world's fifth largest economy, California, chose last month to fully legalise cannabis for recreational use.
Already worth an estimated $7bn across the US, the cannabis industry is already expecting a bigger market in the Golden State than in the rest of the current legal states combined.
This is unequivocally the result of decades of effort from activists, who over the years have pointed to factors such as cannabis' relatively low ranking on social harm indexes, the oppressive and arguably racist War on Drugs, and the potential massive economic benefits from legalisation, currently being seen in states like Colorado.
However, recent light shone on developments in the medicinal applications of illegal drugs have provided a huge push for eroding the stigma surrounding these drugs, and resulted in more popular support for legalisation.
Cannabis has been demonstrated to provide effective relief for a number of conditions, including epilepsy, physical pain, nausea, insomnia, arthritis, and more. Medicinal use in the US has paved the way for politicians to more legitimately and credibly facilitate the demand for recreational use; California being a perfect example. Now, the UK appears to be building similar momentum, with the GW Pharmaceuticals expanding its UK manufacturing and cultivation of plants used in epilepsy treatment, following great success in its clinical trials, and the Lib Dems strongly hinting at support for legal medicinal cannabis.
MDMA has just been given the green light by the FDA for phase three trials in the treatment of PTSD, making it one step away from being medicinally legal, something which could come as early as 2021.
Psilocybin, a psychoactive compound in 'magic mushrooms', has recently been in the spotlight for helping ease depression and anxiety amongst those with terminal illnesses, as well as aiding patients with addiction.
These are just several of the many recent notable medicinal applications of illegal drugs, which happens to have come in a milestone year for drug legalisation. This doesn't appear to be a coincidence, as there are countless touching stories emerging highlighting the positive results people struggling with medical conditions can find through the use of illegal drugs.
The story of Elisma's brain aneurysm, and her 2 year long struggle with painkillers before being prescribed cannabis by a doctor, is a powerful example that resonated with me and challenged my views. What do you think, is the health industry pushing away the stigma previously surrounding illegal drugs?
In 2010, Elisma suffered a brain aneurysm. The surgery to repair the aneurysm left her with frequent and debilitating migraines. Elisma’s doctor prescribed codeine — an opiate-based painkiller that mimics the numbing effects of heroin. The codeine left her in a fog and made it impossible to lead a normal, productive life. One afternoon, Elisma says she felt a sort of paralysis coil itself around her neck. “It was terrifying, I called an ambulance right away,” she said. It took two years for Elisma to find a cannabis prescription. “This isn’t a conspiracy theory here. It was much easier to get my hands on this highly addictive painkiller than it was to obtain a prescription for cannabis.” “It may sound ridiculous, but weed changed my life. Or, at least, it gave me my life back.”