It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK.
The Mental Health Foundation has hosted the event for the past 21 years.
This year’s campaign is focused on the benefits of reconnecting with nature. But the organisation is also encouraging people to do whatever they can to support their mental wellbeing.
CBD paves the way
People around the UK are increasingly looking to cannabis to support their mental health, thanks, in no small part, to the rise of CBD.
Thanks to legalisation in 2018, patients can now access a wide variety of cannabis medicines to treat their mental health conditions.
The MHRA is yet to approve any cannabis medicines for psychiatric conditions.
Individuals wishing to go down this route can do so via private cannabis clinics like Sapphire and The Medical Cannabis Clinics.
Patients are required to attend a consultation where they discuss their condition, previous treatments and past cannabis use.
They will also discuss the available treatment options, including the pros and cons of flower and oils and the most appropriate CBD:THC ratios for their medicine.
A panel of doctors will then approve or reject the application. If successful, the patient will be sent a prescription in the post.
Psychosis and ‘super skunk’
The UK’s relationship with cannabis and mental health is a complicated one.
In 2008, then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith successfully lobbied for cannabis to be restored to its former Class B status.
Politicians were concerned by reports of high-THC ‘skunk’ varieties damaging young people’s mental health.
A report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) found a “probable, but weak, causal link between psychotic illness, including schizophrenia, and cannabis use”.
However, the Council believed that cannabis only played a ‘modest role’ in psychotic illnesses in the wider population and recommended that it should remain Class C.
In 2020, we visited Dr Anup Mathew at the Medical Cannabis Clinics in Harley Street.
“We have always been taught that cannabis causes psychosis and there’s not an understanding of where that comes from. As a trainee you’re left with that knowledge, but it’s not explored any further.
“But when you dive into the research and look at receptors and pharmacological reactions, you understand that there is a use for this medication.
“If there’s any history of psychosis, schizophrenia or bi-polar, you have to be very careful.
“We’re not currently seeing patients with that history. Not to say that they wouldn’t benefit from it, but we don’t want to cause any issues before we can even show the benefits.”