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The lesser of two evils in reducing harm?

There is an interesting pilot test project going on in the UK to evaluate a cannabidiol (CBD) vaporiser and, depending on the results, Britain could find itself with a “properly regulated cannabis market”, according to the manufacturer of the product.

The NHS is testing the cannabis Medipen and reports already gathered suggest that there may be significant benefits for patients with arthritis, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. At the moment, cannabis is classed as a Schedule 1 drug in the UK, which indicates that it is thought to have zero therapeutic value, but this undertaking by the NHS suggests that attitudes and policy may be about to change, depending on the results of the tests.

Of course, it’s well known that people who are vulnerable to mental health conditions such as schizophrenia should avoid cannabis, but if the substance is responsibly engineered, there could be benefits for patients with these other conditions.

CBD, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, contains no psychoactive substance. In fact, it is already used to good effect in the multiple sclerosis spray Sativex.

Dr Anna Ermakova, Science Officer with think-tank the Beckley Foundation in the UK, explained to Yahoo News: “It is good to see some progress. If you can show that CBD has benefits, you can start testing whole cannabis plants for medical benefits.

“THC and CBD help with different illnesses, so there’s a different market for CBD.”

An initial, but admittedly small, study showed positive results for the application of CBD in smoking cessation and a larger trial is in the pipeline — we may someday see people ‘vaping’ their cannabis at the bus stop.

 Managing Director of Medipen, Jordan Owen, told The Independent in the UK: “We’ve recently been working very closely with a team of NHS production and regulatory support pharmacists who’ve been able to meticulously analyse our proprietary formulation for both safety and cannabinoid concentration.

“As the UK’s industry-leading consumer cannabis biotechnology company, we’re excited to have set a new benchmark in providing a much-needed sense of legitimacy to the UK’s rapidly-growing legal cannabis industry.

“As the first consumer cannabis product to be tested by the NHS, we are confident that this will go a long way towards creating a properly regulated cannabis market in the UK and are extremely excited to see what the future holds.”

Separately, and on a broader theme, a recent study has shown that legalising cannabis overall would generate revenue of up to Stg £1  billion in a properly-regulated market.

If these funds could be funnelled to tackle alcohol and other substance abuse, or other public health initiatives, maybe that would be a sensible step in the right direction.

My esteemed Editor or myself would be most interested in hearing your views on the matter.

North of Eden

An unlikely hand of friendship has been offered to North Korea by the north Dublin suburb of Finglas, urging us to “give these guys a chance” (that’s a comment by the Finglas Village Renewal Partnership in relation to North Korea, rather than vice-versa).

A representative from the Partnership recently appeared on the Ray D’Arcy Show and revealed that his organisation has been in touch with North Korean officials with an offer to twin Finglas with a city in the dictatorship.

While a missile base in Finglas may not be an immediate concern, Sean Mooney from the Partnership wants to foster cultural and commercial partnerships with North Korea. No reply has yet been received from Kim Jong Un, but Sean is not about to give up on the concept.

“At this stage of the game, I don’t think they will reply, but that’s why I got in touch with yourselves, to see if I can push it a little bit further,” he told the programme.

The prospect of Kim Jong Un sitting in his office with his generals listening to the Ray D’arcy Show may be even more unlikely that a Finglas-North Korea collaboration, but that’s a conversation for another day.

“It would put Finglas on the map if they did accept, that’s for sure,” he added. “It would put Finglas on the map in a positive light and that’s what we need and that’s what we want… it would be very, very interesting and away from the ordinary, to put it lightly.”

In the context of North Korea’s human rights record, he pointed to the fact that Beijing and Tel Aviv are also twinned with other towns.

“The way I look at it is, give these guys a chance. We see what we’re shown; who’s to say that’s what it is? I really don’t know. Give them a chance, see will they accept and we’ll go from there.” 

Smooth operators

As usual around this time of year, the award for ‘Best Joke’ is handed out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year’s offering is a nifty little heart donation-related gag by comedian Masal Graham: “My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart.”

Here’s a brief selection of some of the runners-up:

“Why is it old people say ‘there’s no place like home’, yet when you put them in one…” Stuart Mitchell.

“I often confuse Americans and Canadians. By using long words.” Gary Delaney.

“Back in the day, Instagram just meant a really efficient drug dealer.” Arthur Smith.

“Elton John hates ordering Chinese food. Soya seems to be the hardest word.” Phil Nicol.

“Is it possible to mistake schizophrenia for telepathy, I hear you ask.” Jordan Brookes.

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