Letter: Managing disease with cannabis

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article 'Cannabis: why doctors want it to be legal' (23 February) makes wonderful reading, though it comes as no surprise to me. I am a 35-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer and smoke cannabis to help with some symptoms, so I understand Clare Hodges' thoughts all too well. We also share backgrounds not normally associated with purchasing illegal substances; she is a middle-aged suburban housewife and I am a middle-aged ex-Army officer.

The only problem with this safe, non-toxic treatment is the ridiculous taboo surrounding cannabis and lack of information available to MS sufferers. I have to break the law to buy what Dr Lester Grinspoon has described as 'a drug of necessity for MS patients', although Dr James Malone-Lee's comments perhaps indicate a growing understanding of an MS patient's desire to use a drug that does not have the disastrous side-effects of other prescription alternatives.

While researchers continue to seek a cure for MS, I, like Clare Hodges, will reluctantly break the law in the knowledge that I am doing what I can to manage my disease. Until a cure is found, I will look forward to the medical establishment and other parties changing their approach to this issue.

Yours faithfully,

BILL THORNTON-SMITH

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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