Opinion

Could medicinal cannabis be the answer to homeless health concerns?

The equation of synthetic street drug spice with cannabis is dangerous, says surgeon Dr Frank D’Ambrosio. The latter could present a solution to the chronic pain problems suffered by so many homeless people

Homeless person on street

The UK is in the grip of what the government has determined to be a ‘spice crisis’. Spice is a term being used to describe a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is spreading relentlessly throughout the British homeless population.

The human-made con is ravaging communities up and down the country and is hitting especially hard in Manchester, where a reported 95% of homeless people are actively taking the drug. Spice is a poison which causes mental and psychological deterioration. It induces in its victims a coma-like state which has been likened to zombification. Accordingly, the government has been forced to step in.

The proliferation of spice is a a big problem. It is the newest addition to a group of synthetic substances which are creating an especially devastating epidemic plaguing big cities such as Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Hull. But the South East, South West and London will not be immune. The reported decrease in drug related deaths in London may be a false flag. Homelessness is increasing in London. Homelessness leads to despair. Despair leads to the use of spice.

The first step in tackling the spice epidemic is education. Spice is not, has never been, nor ever will be cannabis. Spice is a synthetic compound, sprayed on a green plant made to resemble cannabis. Marketing spice as a cheap marijuana high is a life threatening lie. Associating spice with cannabis is a mean-spirited and dangerous attempt to instil fear, by disinformation, into those who do not know enough about the healing potential of the real cannabis plant.

The overwhelming plight of homelessness invariably leads to despair. Many homeless people feel they have no hope; but for a few hours or days, they can forget the pain of life and disappear into oblivion. Unfortunately, spice is addictive, dangerous and lethal. Many ask what can be done. I believe that is the wrong question. The proliferation of spice in the UK is a symptom of hopelessness. If you can cure the despair of homelessness, you can curb the disease.

I believe that organic, natural cannabis may play an important role in combating the lethal physical effects of spice on the human body. A rise in interest in CBD has proven that everyday people can ease their aches and pains, lower their anxiety levels, and even quash epileptic seizures. Medical cannabis itself, meanwhile, is widely used for a variety of health purposes. It is, sadly, a long way from being widely accepted; however a movement is building. Those who deny the medical benefits of cannabis will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Research is continuing to roll out across Europe and beyond. People who suffer from epilepsy and chronic pain will soon have access to more cannabis-based medicine than ever before. It’s a firm step in the right direction. However cannabis acceptance in the UK is being stunted, yet again, for the fear of psychosis and now to the rise of spice.

Homelessness brings with it a wide variety of chronic illnesses. On the street, you are at risk of a variety of infections and painful conditions. Hepatitis A, B and C, for example, are rife. While the battle to curb HIV and AIDS appears to be turning a corner, it is still a major presence on our streets. Above all, homeless people are at risk of chronic, enduring pain. Where is the relief? Data shows that up to a third of homeless deaths are completely preventable.

HIV and AIDS sufferers could also benefit from regular use of medicinal cannabis.  Reports continue to show that cannabis can help to reduce anxiety, nausea and feelings of dread. Those suffering from AIDS, particularly rough sleepers, will be subject to intense physical pain and feelings of helplessness. Medicinal cannabis could help to relieve such suffering, and may actively help in getting such people off the street.

It’s time we made a distinction between the medicine and the poison

Ultimately, homeless people are at a greater risk of death than any other. This is not just as a result of being exposed to the elements, but also as a result of accidental injury, violence, or suicide. Hunger and improper nutrition, too, are ravaging the British homeless. This is all without mentioning a mental health epidemic which has never been more prevalent in rough sleepers.

Arthritis, skin problems, epilepsy and hypertension may all be treated and relieved with the right course of cannabis treatment. However, we are a long way from rolling out such treatments to help bring the UK homeless back to health and comfort. Sadly, the rise in spice availability is doing plenty to hold the positive effects of cannabis back from the public.

The future of medicinal cannabis in the UK is bright but realistically it will be years before it’s properly accessible. Spice, unfortunately, will continue to grow in popularity at a much quicker rate while laying waste to countless lives. With cannabis being so potentially beneficial to the legions of people living rough in the UK, it is time we made the distinction between the cannabis, the medicine, and spice, the poison, starker than ever before.

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