A woman who uses medicinal cannabis to combat chronic pain says she is going to “openly break the law” after running out of money for private prescriptions.
Carly Barton, who feels “frustrated” and “trapped in a very odd situation”, says she has resorted to growing and buying the drug illegally instead.
She cannot get it on the NHS because it is classed as an untested medicine, she says.
The 32-year-old uses medicinal cannabis because she suffers from fibromyalgia – a condition that causes pain all over the body – following a stroke in her early twenties.
The former university lecturer, who taught fine art, is believed to have become the first person to be prescribed cannabis in the UK in December after it was made legal for medicinal use in November.
But private prescriptions have been costing her about £1,300 a month, and her savings have been wiped out.
She has previously been prescribed strong opioids including morphine and fentanyl, but they left her feeling “zombied” and still “crying in pain”.
“I am going to openly break the law until I can access my medicine or they give me some kind of exemption,” she said.
“I do not see myself as a criminal. There are two doctors who have prescribed it to me and now there is a vague law which does not seem to see it as a potential medicine.
“It looks like you can’t legally get cannabis on the NHS because the evidence does not exist as yet (to say it is safe) because it has been illegal for so long.”
In an open letter to the Sussex Police Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, Ms Barton says she has “no other choice” than to grow the drug to control her pain.
Ms Barton added: “I do not want to be a zombie or back in a wheelchair. I want to live my life and cannabis enables me to do that.
“I am feeling trapped in a very odd situation. I am frustrated.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence had been asked to “develop additional clinical guidelines” and was “working with Health Education England to provide additional training”.
A spokesman said: “The government has delivered on its promise and specialist doctors can now prescribe cannabis-based medical products where there is clinical evidence of benefit.
“We are also promoting more research through the National Institute for Health Research to further improve the evidence base.”