I Shouldn’t Be Criminalised for Using Cannabis to Ease My Constant Pain

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I shouldn’t be criminalised for using cannabis to ease my constant pain James Coke A new UK bill could give hope to millions of people suffering unnecessarily, allowing them to choose their medical path.  ‘Legalising medical cannabis might be personal to me, but it should be personal to us all.’ Photograph: bdspn/Getty Images/iStockphoto

For much of my adult life I’ve had to rise each morning and battle multiple sclerosis. Sometimes it’s a thankless task – my legs scissored together, locked in spasm as I fight to break free of its stranglehold.

I’m convinced cannabis has allowed me to live more of a normal life than would have been possible with the constant pain. I’ve always smoked it. But in recent years I’ve been making cannabis oil and turning it into tinctures. A few drops of my special brew numbs any niggling aches, clear my mind and help me get a good night’s sleep, spasm-free.

But smoking a joint or making cannabis tinctures could land me in jail for five years under our current drug laws. For someone living with MS or any other affliction that can be soothed by cannabis – including Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder or cancer – the stigma of a criminal record is not ethical or fair.

Since the “war on drugs” was launched in the early 1970s millions of people with medical problems have been getting a bum deal. Cannabis, for centuries lauded for its therapeutic benefits, was unjustly demonised, tossed in with the likes of heroin and cocaine, to be expunged from the reach of society. However, the war was lost long ago. It is estimated that the illegal global drug market is worth about $400bn a year. The figure represents the total failure of the policy and excludes the billions wasted fighting it.

Several UK police forces, including Durham, effectively decriminalised the personal use of cannabis to prioritise resources. And public opinion supports a change in the law, especially when it comes to medical cannabis. That is only likely to increase after the fight by the mother of a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy who has been refused a licence to be treated with cannabis oil.

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