A MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer has vowed to buy cannabis from street dealers after police took action against her for growing it at home.
Michelle X, who changed her surname after her husband left her, says smoking cannabis allows her to cope with the condition and live an independent life.
Without it, she says she is wheelchair-bound and suffers with ongoing pains.
Today, campaigners have backed her plight – saying that the law needs to be changed.
Police found 28 cannabis plants and nearly 60g of the drug when they raided her Abingdon home in March.
They also took away £1,000 worth of cannabis growing equipment. Now the 46-year-old has accepted a caution – but said she would have to use her disability benefits to hand her money over to drug dealers.
“The drug works for me, and all my neurologists agree that it works, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
“If I don’t take cannabis, I am stuck in a wheelchair and I need people to bathe me and dress me, but with cannabis I can do my own shopping, walk my dog and live independently on a much lower care package.”
Ms X, of Lammas Close, had been producing cannabis herself for around 10 years. The grandmother, who was diagnosed with MS in 1988, said: “I started buying cannabis illegally myself and tried it. The benefits were unbelievable.
“Now I am left with no alternative than to buy the drug illegally. I am forced to use my disability benefits to pay for this.”
Lady Neidpath, founder of the Oxfordshire-based drugs charity The Beckley Foundation, said: “This is a very clear example of a human cost, where a woman is being criminalised for treating her condition.”
In many parts of the country, those who suffer from MS are prescribed Sativex, a patented mouthspray which contains one of the main components of cannabis. But the spray is not available in this county.
Stephen Trousse, a spokesman for the MS Trust, said: “We believe that people with MS should have access to safe, effective and licensed treatments for their symptoms on the NHS, rather than feeling they have to find solutions outside of the law.”
John Chipperfield, chairman of the Oxford and district branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, whose wife Marilyn suffers from MS, said: “Obviously what Ms X is doing is illegal and we would never advise people to grow their own cannabis.
“Cannabis may be harmful and could do more harm than good. I would say that people have to go through the proper channels.”
But North Oxford resident Chris Sivewright, who has a number of relatives with MS and fundraises for the condition, said: “People with MS will do anything within reason they can to reduce the pain and, unfortunately, Ms X has fallen foul of the law.”
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “I sympathise with the woman in question, but the Government has no plans to legalise cannabis.” Thames Valley Police declined to comment on Ms X’s case.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS FACTFILE
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision
- Each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is surrounded by a layer of protein called myelin, which protects the nerve and helps electrical signals from the brain travel to the rest of the body. In MS, the myelin becomes damaged.
- This disrupts the transfer of these nerve signals, causing a wide range of potential symptoms including fatigue, loss of vision and loss of coordination.
- There is currently no cure for MS.