Medicinal Cannabis and MS

There has been much talk and chatter on the wires recently following an announcement by Minister for State at the Department for Health Alex White on the prescribing of Sativex, a cannabis-extract spray used to treat MS symptoms. The Irish Medicine Board has passed the product for use in Ireland. However, before it could be prescribed, there needs to be a change to the Misuse of Drugs Regulation, 1988. Reported in the Irish Times in a piece by Kitty Holland, consultation documents have been issued and submissions are sought by the Department of Health by September 6th.

Sativex spray, used in the UK, Spain and other EU countries

Unlike the icky-charm alcohol enchants Irish society with, cannabis is not an easy topic for people to talk about. People will scream, get hysterical and forget about what reasoned debate is for and why policy-making is so important. There is a wonderful book by Francis Hutcheson, An Enquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. It’s about human happiness and the importance of enlightened policy-making. An oft quoted passage came to mind as I thought about possible changes to Irish legislation. Hutcheson states “that action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers, and that is worst, which, in like manner, occasions misery”.Changes to the legislation would go someway to creating happiness and reducing the misery that MS symptoms can bring to so many.

Why use it?

Why do people use cannabis to ease their MS symptoms? Generally, the primary symptoms people use it for are spasticity and sleep disorders.

Spasms are involuntary movements/rigidity of muscles caused by irregular nerve signals. The damage to the myelin sheath along the brain and spinal cord corrupts the transmission of the nerve signals. The involuntary muscle tightening is often crippling, can be seriously debilitating and reduces your ability to carry out everyday tasks such as dressing, walking and working. Tremors can seriously impact a person’s desire to go out socializing as there may be difficulties with movement, holding a beverage, eating. Let’s not forget how dependent we are when it comes to subtle movement. Intimate relationships can be really tough to manage- how do you kiss if there tremors and spasms overwhelm you?

Medicate Me

Some of the medications prescribed to treat spasticity have side-effects that exacerbate other MS symptoms. How about an extra dose of depression and fatigue with your meds? In general, physical exercise and physiotherapy can be used to help with stretching, flexibility and overall mobility. While activity does somewhat help spasticity by exercising and using the muscles, external treatments, such as cannabis/cannabis-based medication, have been proven most effective. In a study from the Multiple Sclerosis Centre in San Diego, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed how smoked cannabis reduced spasticity and pain.

Medicinal Cannabis


People with MS across the world are using cannabis and cannabis-based medication to ease their symptoms as a means of getting on with a normal day. It is not about getting stoned, it is about get up and go! Functionality not frivolity. The suggestions that people would sell their medication rather than use it to walk, is ridiculous. It is time to take a reasoned approach to the use of cannabis/cannabis-based medication by people in Ireland.

The following relates to the earlier quote from Francis Hutcheson. It is by Philip Orr,

“The moral sense of individual men and women must be allowed to function if the virtuous society that flows

from free exercise of this sense is to be given a chance to flourish”.

For more information on the use of medicinal cannabis and MS

The use of medicinal cannabis to treat sick children in the USA


One thought on “Medicinal Cannabis and MS

  1. ktreu says:

    this is terrific. I have a friend who’s active with the Texas chapter of Norml, and have learned so much. Austin has such a laid back attitude towards cannabis, that it always surprises me when I remember that other places have strong reactions, particularly where other forms of intoxication are prevalent! This page was particularly interesting to me

    – katherine


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