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“If it wasn’t for cannabis I would have given up”

My prescription has changed my life – but we need access on the NHS



Jane Hinchliffe was prescribed opioids for severe chronic pain (left), she now has a legal cannabis prescription (right).

When Cannabis Health spoke to Jane Hinchliffe last year she was being forced to break the law to get access to the medicine that relieves her chronic pain. Six months on she has a legal prescription for cannabis and is going from strength to strength. 

A few years ago Jane Hinchliffe was practically housebound and reliant on a wheelchair to get around.

Now she is “living in the gym”, despite experiencing chronic pain as a result of fibromyalgia and the autoimmune condition complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) – which is considered to be one of the most painful conditions to live with.

After decades of living in a fog of prescription painkillers, she began using cannabis medicinally in 2018, finding that it helped her pain so much she was able to walk again  – and even come off the opioids completely.

But due to the costs of a legal prescription, Jane was forced to access it illicitly and even spent time in prison after being convicted for cultivation. 

Jane is able to medicate throughout the day meaning she can exercise more

In January, Jane was finally able to get a prescription privately through Project Twenty21, a scheme which subsidises the monthly costs in order to make medical cannabis more accessible, with the aim of building a body of evidence for its efficacy and safety. 

“Now I medicate three times a day with oil and use the flower as often as I need,” says Jane. 

“It’s been quite a learning curve. I now know that some strains are actually worse for my pain than others.

“My conditions are so much better controlled, because I’ve got a consistent supply of the medicines that work.”

Jane was recently diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND), which occurs when there is an issue with the nervous system and how the brain and body sends and receives signals.

“It causes a lot of nerve pain, headaches and muscle spasms which is when your muscles basically go into knots. But cannabis really helps with those too, as well as other symptoms, such as keeping my asthma under control,” she adds.

“It just shows that diagnosis isn’t important when it comes to cannabis.”

Jane finds exercise helpful for managing her symptoms, but she is only able to work out in the gym due to the cannabis keeping her pain under control. 

“If I keep moving I’m not in as much pain, I don’t get all knotted up, but I wouldn’t be able to do all this without the cannabis because it’s that which gets the pain to a point where I can get moving,” she explains.

Getting a legal prescription has been a “learning curve” for Jane

“Before I had a prescription I could go to the gym, but I couldn’t medicate while I was there so my pain would flare up.

“I used to have to hide in the car and do bongs illegally, whereas now I can take my vaporiser with me or bring an oil if it’s more convenient.”

Jane adds: “People’s perceptions change when they find out you’ve got a prescription, it’s suddenly more acceptable. The managers all know about it and they leave me to it.”

But the fact that she was a legal patient didn’t stop officers from confiscating her medication after she was pulled over by police earlier this year.

Jane admits that her partner did have illegally-bought cannabis in the car – which he uses to manage anxiety. But despite showing officers her patient identification MedCannID card, Jane says they refused to return her medication, due to it being stored in glass jars and not in its original packaging. 

The clinic was quick to issue Jane with a replacement prescription, but she was still left without any medication for seven days while she waited for it to be processed.

“I’m still fighting with the police to get my medicine back,” she says.

Cannabis allows her to be more active in the gym

“It was just a matter of days without cannabis but I was back on the opioids again, so obviously it is stopping me from needing all of those drugs.”

But like many other patients, being unable to work and surviving on disability allowance, funding a private prescription each month isn’t sustainable for Jane long-term.

“You can push yourself to the limit for so many months – I might even be able to make it through the rest of the summer – but we need the Government and the NHS to step up,” she says.

Now that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidelines advising doctors against prescribing opioids and common painkillers such as paracetamol, Jane fears patients like her will be left with no other option than to break the law.

“I have friends who are using cannabis to come off opioids but they have to do it illegally because they can’t afford the costs. It’s so frustrating,” she says.

“They can’t expect people that are living with a lot of pain to not have any relief.”

She adds: “People don’t understand how intense the pain is, it’s everywhere in my body now.

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for cannabis, the chances are I wouldn’t be here now, I would have given up.”

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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