Medical marijuana could put an end to my constant pain, but I can't even try it without breaking the law

I don't understand how the NHS can be so behind countries like America, as legalisation would benefit so many and save millions

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The Independent Online

Three American senators are today introducing a bill which will legalise medical marijuana under federal law across the US. The bill will not compel individual states to allow medical use of the drug but will ensure that those which do – 23 so far – will not be overridden by federal law enforcement.

The proposal is called the “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act” and it will also seek to recognise the medical benefits of cannabis in its drug classification. 

The initiative, coming as it does from country not noted for being “soft on drugs”, has left me feeling betrayed by Britain and our much-vaunted NHS.

I suffer from a condition known as “peripheral neuropathy”. It is the irreversible degeneration of the nerve endings in the extremities, in my case the soles of the feet, which feel as if they are on fire all the time.

There is no cure and no pain relief is effective. I can walk, but slowly and not more than 50 yards or so. My newly acquired Blue Badge allows parking close enough to various destinations to make it, but a wheelchair is my constant companion. Worse still, the 24/7 pain is exhausting and makes it very hard to fall asleep, as it seems to hurt most as I am trying to doze off.

I have been seeing a leading neurological consultant and tried conventional medications which managed to dull my senses without alleviating the pain. He concluded that the best I could hope for was for the nerve endings to die, ending the pain. My feet would then be completely numb, which would still make walking awkward, but I would at least be able to sleep. So far there is no sign of this happening.


Following a trip abroad, I suggested that cannabis might offer me relief. He jocularly suggested a quick visit to Amsterdam and more seriously that as cannabis affects the nervous system – and is established as being effective for MS sufferers – it could help me. But he could only give me a cannabinoid compound, Sativex, made by pharma giant Bayer, which I could only obtain on private prescription. It cost me £500 to discover that this particular formulation was not what I required.

However, the expert agreed that other forms could be more effective – and vastly cheaper – but none are now legal, so I cannot even try them without breaking the law.

The legalisation of medical marijuana is 23 states in the US has created a mini-boom in specialist dispensaries where various types and combinations are offered for different conditions, designed to be smoked (I don’t smoke and don’t wish to) but also taken as oils and incorporated into food, especially cakes.