Image: a graphic showing the chemical structure of cannabis


One in five people with MS we surveyed in 2014 told us they’d used cannabis to help with their symptoms. They said it can help with muscle spasms or stiffness (spasticity) and pain.

The relief comes from chemicals in cannabis called cannabinoids. The main ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gets you ‘high’, and cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t.

There’s a medically approved cannabis-based treatment called Sativex, but it doesn’t work for everyone. In most parts of the UK you can’t get it from the Health Service (NHS). That’s because the good it does is seen as too small to be worth what it costs. And for many people it’s too expensive to buy privately.

So some people with MS get cannabis to help ease their symptoms in other ways.

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