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Reading time - 8 minutes - October 7, 2021
Medicinal cannabis is now becoming more accepted throughout the world, throughout Europe and, even, throughout the UK. Extensive research is finally being done into what once was just a banned natural plant. Whilst there’s still a long way to go, the evidence is screaming out to be listened to and officials are finally listening. One of the many benefits of cannabis includes the incredible effects it has on tourette’s syndrome. Once you’ve seen how the wonders of weed can benefit those with TS, you’ll never be able to un-see it. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Finch who suffers from tourettes and spoke about how important marijuana is in his treatment processes. It’s devastating that more people don’t know about the relationship between cannabis and tourettes. If you want to know more, then make sure to read on.
Before we delve into tourettes, let’s first look into the legal cannabis situation in the UK. Medical cannabis in the UK was legalized in 2018. It was a huge landmark moment for those in need of medicinal weed, and for those who had been campaigning for it to be legalized for decades. Thousands of people in the UK were being forced to self-medicate on unregulated cannabis from the dark web and street dealers due to the fact that there was nowhere else to get it. In fact, a particular case about a mother and her child is thought to be one of the main events that turned the heads of government officials.
Billy Caldwell was a young boy who suffered from epilepsy and seizures from a young age. His mother, Charlotte, soon came to the realisation that the only benefiting treatment was cannabis oil. Billy suffered from up to 100 seizures a day, and the cannabis oil limited his seizures to a huge extent. Charlotte and Billy were mesmerised by how positive the effects of THC oil were on his condition. However, the problem was that this specific oil product was illegal in the UK and, as such, Charlotte had to travel all the way to Canada to get the product. On one occasion, she was returning back to the UK with Billy’s medicine and it was confiscated at Heathrow airport. She was devastated. Soon after, Billy was rushed to hospital due to epileptic seizures and almost died. It was this specific case that forced people to realise how important cannabis was and is in dealing with many health conditions; both mental and physical.
The issue didn’t end there however. As much as it would be romantic and ideal to say that after 2018 medical cannabis became easily accessible to everyone who needed it, sadly that isn’t the case. The truth is that the NHS doesn’t offer cannabis prescriptions, and the only way for a patient to get a prescription is to find a private institution. This undoubtedly means that the price is extortionate. Therefore, many find it cheaper to stick with street dealers or the dark-web. However, this again leads to issues. Any substance that contains more than 0.2% THC is illegal in the UK to sell or to own, therefore even if people are buying cannabis to treat their conditions, the police can prosecute. So there began a horrible loop. Expensive cannabis – leading people to buy it illegally elsewhere – leading to people being fined and prosecuted. It wasn’t a good cycle.
That’s when Carly Barton and the Cancard entered the frame. The Cancard was made to help those who were being unfairly sentenced for possession of medical cannabis that they had been forced to purchase illegally. On the Cancard website it states:
“Despite the fact that Cannabis medicines became legal in 2018, patients who are unable to afford a costly prescription are still stuck in limbo. Cancard provides the opportunity for police to exercise their discretion through the understanding that the patient in possession of cannabis is in fact medicating for their condition.”
The Cancard helps sort out a problem that really should not be a problem. The existence of the Cancard highlights the issues that still exist in the UK today when it comes to accessing medical cannabis.
If you want to find out if you’re eligible for the Cancard then click here.
Now we can look into how cannabis helps with the condition of tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome is a condition of the nervous system. It causes people to have what are described as ‘tics’. These can include sounds, movements, twitches that are uncontrollable and can occur repeatedly. Tics cannot be stopped, and are usually very uncomfortable for whoever is suffering from the condition. An example of a tic might be someone blurting out words, phrases or sounds. Or, it could be someone having a twitch in their face or hands. There isn’t only one type of tics, there are a plethora of different versions. There are complex tics and there are simple tics. A simple tic may be an eye twitch, but a complex tic may be a more complicated combination of patterns, movements and sounds. Tics can appear in people as early as 2 and up to 15 years old. What can begin as something very small and insignificant, can then grow into a much bigger tic when a patient grows older.
In the UK, over 300,000 children and adults suffer from tourettes. However, the exact cause is still unknown. This is because it’s so integral to a part of the brain, and the knowledge behind the science of the brain is always a little complicated. People try to understand, but it’s hard to confirm anything. MayoClinic states:
“The exact cause of Tourette syndrome isn’t known. It’s a complex disorder likely caused by a combination of inherited (genetic) and environmental factors. Chemicals in the brain that transmit nerve impulses (neurotransmitters), including dopamine and serotonin, might play a role.”
Some people are known to have developed tourettes from a very young age, whilst others have suffered from it directly after a serious incident. For example, a traumatic event. Natalie Pearson claims to have started suffering from tourettes after she had been raped. Ultimately, it might not be known exactly what causes tourettes, but the treatment of tourettes using cannabis is gaining momentum more and more.
Jim Finch is a man from Essex who suffers from tourettes. According to Mayoclinic, “males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome”. I had the pleasure of speaking with him for our new Nectar podcast series entitled ‘CannaStories’. In our podcast we are speaking to a range of people from the cannabis world and hearing their stories. Jim is a lovely, intelligent and inspiring individual who developed tourettes after a car accident. He told me that his mother had noticed perhaps small, simple tics in him at a young age, but that the car incident most definitely exacerbated his condition. Jim’s friend recommended he looked on Youtube to see how tourette sufferers used cannabis to deal with their symptoms. The videos amazed Jim, as they did me when I saw them, and as they will you if you decide to watch. The visual effects you can see the cannabis having is outstanding. The tics were almost completely gone. Jim then realised that cannabis could be an easier and better way of treating his tourettes. He decided to work hard to campaign for a prescription, and eventually he got one that wasn’t too extortionate and that had the variety of cannabis that he needed. Jim finds that he needs a varied supply of high THC cannabis in order to ensure that his body doesn’t become immune to one particular strain. He’s found that this creates the best atmosphere for reduced tics. Although Jim had been initially given prescriptions to various other drugs, he noted to me that they would make him feel drowsy, and often wouldn’t do too much for his tourette’s symptoms. When he started using cannabis, he was in total shock at how much more benefiting it was then what he had been prescribed. When Jim uses cannabis his tics subside, and all symptoms of Tourettes are reduced hugely. Click here to see Jim taking cannabis to help reduce his TS.
The question is: why does cannabis have such a shockingly good effect on tourette’s symptoms? Well, there’s lots of evidence to back what Jim’s experiences have been. He’s far from being the first or the last person to use cannabis to treat TS. When research was done into treating tourette’s syndrome with cannabis, there was a ‘significant tic reduction could be observed after treatment with THC compared to placebo, without causing significant adverse effects’. Therefore, not only does cannabis help reduce the symptoms of TS, it also doesn’t lead to any horrible after effects. Some scientists believe that the cannabinoids in cannabis, react with the body and the brain and work as a relaxant. This helps to reduce the tics brought about by TS. For Jim Finch, he described it as a life-saver. In fact, apparently it literally saved his life as he was dealing with a huge amount of depression after the accident and the cannabis’ benefits on his condition gave him much needed hope.
Now all we can hope for is that more people in positions of power become aware of the wonders of cannabis and how it can benefit those with tourettes and many other conditions; both physical and mental. Although, the unfortunate truth is that money seems to be what is driving any major legal changes in the cannabis industry. Pharmaceutical companies seem to be making lots of money for holding the monopoly in the UK cannabis growing market, especially as no individual is allowed to grow their own medical supply. It’s a real shame, and one that costs thousands of medical cannabis patients every year. However, as Jim Finch himself said to me over a zoom call, ‘we have to hope’.
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