Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Indigo Hawk (DP091)

I am a 40 year old Multiple Sclerosis patient who uses marijuana to medicate my condition.

In February 2009, I was experiencing some numbness in my hands that within a week started to spread through the rest of my body. My GP suspected I had MS and sent me to a neurologist at Torbay Hospital, where an MRI scan confirmed I had this condition. In their medical opinion, I had had MS for 23 years since the age of 17.

The scan revealed multiple deep lesions, which is damage to nerve endings. The neurologist, Prof Hobart, told me he couldn’t understand how I was functioning. In his opinion, I should have been a vegetable, unable to use any of the motor functions in my body. The scan showed an area the size of a skullcap with hundreds of black holes going into the central cortex of the brain. Also it showed a large black hole in the left hand side of the brain and on the right hand side of the brain, the same size hole, but white. The brain had receded into the skull by half an inch and scans also showed white scarring all the way down the right hand side of the spine.

The doctors originally wanted to prescribe steroids and beta-interferon, which I refused, since I have always been a user of complimentary medicines. I had a good idea of what medicine I needed; I have been using cannabis since the age of 21 and I was certain this is the reason I had been undiagnosed for so long.

I have been prescribed Sativex in the past, but I had an adverse reaction to it. It made my mouth go very dry, my gums bleed and flared up and it didn’t work, so I have had to carry on using organic marijuana, which I smoke.

The effects are amazing; it enables me to function like a normal human being. I can walk, not far, but at least I can get around. It makes me feel more awake and more alert. It gives my life back to me.

My neurologist, Prof Hobart, acknowledges that I need to smoke organic cannabis, but his hands are tied, because of the law. My GP also agrees, but again the law prevents him from prescribing the best medication available, which I understand would be freely available to patients with my condition in countries such as Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and many states of the USA, including California. Because I am an MS sufferer and an English citizen, I have to resort to the black market to get my medicine. This costs me a fortune, which means I have little money to do other things, and it’s a real hassle to get hold of. Sometimes, I suffer, because I’ve been unable to get my medicine. Also, due to the unfair law, I can only use my medicine in a few restricted places, so I mainly stay at home, as it’s the only place where I feel I can safely use my medicine, without being hassled. Even then I was still visited by a local police officer recently, who knew I smoked cannabis for my condition, but wanted to check I wasn’t dealing in it.

I cause no harm to society whatsoever, I’m a peaceful law abiding citizen who needs to smoke cannabis in order to lead as normal life as I can, due to the fact I have MS.

It is universally acknowledged cannabis helps Multiple Sclerosis, as well as many other conditions. I have many friends who smoke it recreationally and in my opinion it is far less dangerous than alcohol.

I thank you in advance for giving people the opportunity to write to your committee to ask for our views. I appeal to your humanity to do everything in your power to get the Government to change our unfair and unjust laws on cannabis. The prohibition of cannabis is preventing many people from having a quality of life. All I want is to have easy access to my medicine and be left alone to get on with my life.

If you would like to visit me personally, or speak with my neurologist and/or GPs then I’m sure this can be arranged.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012