Five years ago I was 27 and leading a normal life, until I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Today, every time I hear a knock at the door I jump fearing it might be the police. What is my crime? Having tried an array of prescription drugs and suffered their debilitating side effects, I turned to medical cannabis. It eases my pain, nausea and inflammation, and allows me to live a normal life again.
The only other option for me would be to move to a country like Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, or one of the 25 states in the US that has already, or is in the process of, legalising access to medical cannabis. But I can't do that. It would break my mum's heart and I don't see why I should have to leave my country to access a medicine.
This is why I'm fighting with the End Our Pain campaign to change the law in the UK to allow patients to have access to medical cannabis through a prescription like any other drug. And the tide is turning. On Tuesday in Parliament, a group of over 100 MPs and peers published a report that emphatically supports my call for access to medical cannabis to be legalised.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform commissioned neurologist Professor Mike Barnes to review evidence from the around the world and concluded that the drug eases chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, particularly during chemotherapy.
Under the current laws in England and Wales, cannabis is not recognised as having therapeutic value. Anyone caught using the drug could be charged for possession, which has a maximum sentence of five years in jail or an unlimited fine.
There is an emerging picture of political and public support turning our way. The End Our Pain campaign released the findings of a Populus poll that reveals a significant majority of the British public support a change in the law, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis where they consider it would help their patients. The poll found that 68% are supportive of such a move, with only 12% opposed. And in July this year, a poll found that 58% of MPs back our aim.
It is estimated that over 1 million people in the UK take cannabis for primarily medical reasons. All these people are at risk of police and court action. The opinion poll shows that the British public understand that these people are patients, not criminals. So the government should have the courage to move on this issue. The polling shows they don't have to fear a backlash. So I urge the government to respond positively to the results of this poll, to the findings of the Parliamentary report, and to the review of global evidence published alongside it.
The government's insistence on classifying cannabis as having no medical benefit condemns thousands to suffering. This is inhumane behaviour. It flies in the face of the evidence that is presented today, evidence that has been strong enough to convince many other governments across the world to act.
Faye Jones is a PA who supports EndOurPain.org