Sativex. 15ml of liquid in a small spray bottle. It costs around £175 for the bottle, and is produced in the UK by GW pharmaceuticals. GW Pharma was granted a license by the government to grow high strength cannabis, then they crush it, blend it with a liquid and sell it to people suffering from MS for a horrendous mark up. Sativex isn’t a synthetic, it didn’t take years of research to produce, it’s just ground up herbal cannabis in a bottle, much like the stuff most of us smoke at the weekend. It’s horrendously expensive and very hard to get prescribed with, even for conditions that we know it helps with, such as Multiple Sclerosis.
So people are turning to the black market to get it. A British journalist recently went out on the streets of Leeds. He found a black market dealer who somehow had obtained a bulk amount of Sativex (which is worrying in itself, it’s supposed to be a strictly controlled drug that is closely guarded from the production site to pharmacies). This black market dealer was happy to sell one of the labelled bottles for £70 in a Wetherspoons.
The journalist then spoke to people are suffering with MS who find it much easy to get sativex on the black market than wait for their doctors to prescribe them with NHS sativex. “As soon as I got it [was prescribed it] I thought ‘fantastic, I don’t have to grow anymore’,” she said. “But, because of all the fuss around the medicine, I come across these problems where I can’t have it for a couple of weeks. So I have to grow. I use one little plant at a time to make one bottle; each bottle lasts a week.”
People suffering from illnesses around the UK, especially MS as it’s very hard to treat, are finding it increasingly difficult to find medicine that will work for them, and when they do, obtaining that medicine is exceedingly difficult.
It is unnecessary for only one company to be allowed to produce a cannabis tincture for sale that is practically no different to one that some one could produce in their own home. The law on medical cannabis in the UK needs to change and needs to change soon.