George shrugs over a wooden table at the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. You’ll find him here most days, morning until night. “Why see the world when the world can come to you?” he asks through a greying mustache, nursing a pint of orange juice and a roll-up cigarette.
He used to work at the now-derelict Crimsworth Dyeworks mill in Midgehole, spending years in the steam and darkness to send fabrics to nearby Manchester. Later he moved on to ripping up roads for the gas board for 25 years, which wasn’t much easier, eventually being made redundant aged 53 through ill health. “Once my health failed I was useless to them,” he says.
Now aged 67, George shows the scars of that time – vibration white finger, back injuries, sciatica, ear damage. But he is one of a growing number of over-60s using CBD, a cannabis-derived compound, and feeling that decades of injuries are easing. “Now, I don’t have my sciatica, I’m freer in my joints and I don’t walk with a limp. It won’t mend a broken bone, it won’t fix my heart, but whatever it’s doing it’s suiting me,” he says.
Medicinal marijuana was legalized in 2018 but remains near-impossible to obtain. A recent Commons health and social care committee report stated that “patients have had their expectations raised unfairly” since home secretary Sajid Javid made the ruling on medicinal marijuana, and “doctors are handling the backlash of poor government handling”.
CBD (cannabidiol) has to contain less than 1mg of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis – per closed container to be legal.