PEOPLE at the end of life living with terminal illness often experience pain and other mental health symptoms.

In this situation some of them may become vulnerable and turn to self-medicate from street cannabis.

While this practice may seem to help with their pain, there are considerable risks attached — criminal prosecution, supporting and perpetuating street crime, the drugs are not regulated and may come with harmful health risks.

The use of cannabis is historically known for recreational purposes and not medicinal benefits.

Did you know that since 2018 medical cannabis has been prescribed legally in the UK to some people to control their pain and other symptoms during terminal illness?

So far, the evidence suggests side-effects and risk of toxicity are not prevalent because people are reviewed regularly by their specialist doctor.

It is true that not all doctors prefer this method or are aware of how it works but the evidence is now building to show the positive effects for terminally-ill people.

Did you know that medical cannabis can be legally prescribed in different forms, including oil drops put under the tongue, dried flowers, capsules and also vapes, but mainly used with younger adults?

One advantage of using oils is the long-lasting effect which suits most terminally-ill people at the end of life.

For more, see the Curaleaf website at

The UK-leading cannabis manufacturer — I met their representatives at a conference last month — is working towards producing edibles and offering a cannabis prescriber programme to train more professionals to confidently prescribe cannabis.

This would ensure wider medical accessibility and a move away from street cannabis.

Finally, the take-home message is that, where conventional drugs are not effectively controlling pain, we can have the courage to ask our doctors whether medical cannabis is a safe alternative under their supervision.

Our columnist Dr Brian Nyatanga is a University of Worcester senior lecturer.