Michael Fabricant is co-sponsor of a Bill that was introduced in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 10th October) by Labour MP Paul Flynn which would legalise the use of cannabis for medical purposes. “A friend of mine suffers from multiple sclerosis and yet he is prevented from using cannabis even though it would relieve his pain. I see no reason why doctors should not be allowed to prescribe cannabis – or any drug – if in their judgment it would help in palliative care or cure.
“A local Burntwood family, Andy and Vicky Clarke, have been tragically affected by this awful disease. They have my deepest sympathy and if their lives can be made a little more easy by having legal access to cannabis, who can object to this?”
Andy Clarke says: “My wife, Vicky, was a very respected Primary Teacher teaching in a challenging School in Walsall when she was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in her mid-30’s, a little over 10yrs ago. We have 2 Daughters, Sophie 20 studying for a Nursing degree in Children’s Nursing and Megan studying on a Btec course with a view to a career in the Police.
“Within 3 to 4 years of diagnosis Vicky was forced to give up the career she loved despite every effort made by all parties and Vicky being lifted from a taxi – on the access to work scheme – onto her mobility scooter to continue her work.
“Since the early days of diagnosis Vicky has suffered daily with severe stabbing nerve pain in her left shoulder. She has tried every drug there is, acupuncture, electro acupuncture, nerve injections, chilli patches and so on and so on, literally everything the NHS and private clinics have to offer.
“There is only one avenue we are pursuing and that is spinal cord stimulation, this was recommended off the record at the outset by Professor Gavin Giovannoni at Barts Hospital in London and he has been proven right on his initial thoughts that getting on top of the pain by any other method would be unlikely to work. But that’s another story on how difficult that journey has been and given Vicky is now only 5½ stone, it’s unlikely she’ll be considered fit enough for the operation.
“Vicky now has very little function and is doubly incontinent. She has carers come in whilst I work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I take over at all other times. It is important to bring the carers into the story because this is where our first brush with the law comes in regarding cannabis.
“I had been trying to grow some cannabis in a spare upstairs bedroom, not very successfully I might add. One of the carers or care agency reported a smell of cannabis coming from upstairs. This was frustrating on two points, one because upstairs is out of bounds, as we live on the ground floor adapted for Vicky and the second is there would have been very little smell due to very little growth and was more than likely found by snooping around. I said two points in actual fact it’s three, as the carers see Vicky cry in pain on a daily basis.
“The resulting action was a visit from the local Police and a stern warning with the instruction not to do it again. The WPC was quite understanding and could see what it was being used for, but said the Police had to act as the call had come in from an agency with the additional fact of a minor living in the house.
“So that was our first brush with being labelled a criminal and our chances of experimenting with cannabis as a pain reliever gone for a while.
“The second time (about 7 months after the first) was also as a result of the care agency reporting cannabis to the Police, again to the backdrop of Vicky crying in pain. I had managed to find a more reliable source of cannabis than trying to grow my own. I made the cannabis into butter and was putting this into a healthy smoothy on a daily basis, having been in a precision Engineering role since leaving school this process was also carried out to precision.
“Absolute success, I would come home from work to find a smiling Vicky whom had been pain free, she would still have the same stabbing pain at night, sadly this is something we were unable to get on top of as our experimenting was cut short by the report to the Police.
“So after 10 years of daily pain, it was being relieved a by a small amount of cannabis in a smoothy, not enough to be ‘stoned’. Vicky is now back to crying in pain on a daily basis.
“The second reporting also resulted in another reluctant visit from the Police, but had the extra worry of a safeguarding visit from Social Services for Vicky ,followed by an even more worrying visit regarding safeguarding of Megan.
“So there you have it, after 10yrs of crying in pain we finally found a simple plant which had Vicky pain free in the day and we were on the way to hopefully turning down the pain at night.
“If I get caught again I run the risk of further action being taken by the Police, I run the risk of either Vicky or Megan being taken into care, given this would risk Megan’s chances of joining the Police, I run the risk of losing my Daughter having ruined her life’s dream.”
Michael Fabricant adds: “This story is tragic – even barbaric. In this respect the law is a complete ass and needs to be changed. It puts the police and social services in an impossible position and I am glad that both have behaved responsibly so far with regard to Vicky and the family.”
The Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill passed the First Reading stage in Parliament without a vote, but is unlikely to become law due to lack of Parliamentary time.
“I shall continue to press the Government to change the law as an amendment to Government legislation” Michael adds.