Why I’ve gone private to access cannabis-based products for my MS

I’ve been living with highly active relapsing remitting MS for over a decade. My main symptoms are neuropathic pain in my legs, leg spasms and overwhelming fatigue.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have taken one of the most effective DMTs disease modifying therapies (DMTs) and have been in remission for nearly five years. 

But my symptoms remain. To deal with my pain, spasms and fatigue I’ve tried many different treatments including muscle relaxants, strong pain killers, physiotherapy, a TENS pain machine and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

Could cannabis help my symptoms?

I’m aware of people using cannabis for MS. There are different types of cannabis, including licensed cannabis-based drugs. I was interested in trying Sativex, which is licensed to treat spasticity in MS. I tried to get a prescription for it on the NHS in Scotland, but after trying a few times and being unsuccessful I gave up. 

Sativex isn’t yet recommended for use on the NHS in Scotland but is in England, Northern Ireland and Wales for some people with MS. Read more.

I think cannabis might be a useful treatment for me because when I went abroad to the Netherlands and could access it there, I noticed it reduced my leg spasms. It was also effective on the pins and needles in my feet. 

Aside from those products which have been prescribed for medicinal use, it’s currently against the law to use cannabis in Scotland. And saying you use it for medical reasons is no defence. I’m not willing to risk a criminal conviction by using it in Scotland. 

I’ve decided to go private to access cannabis products 

Recently I became aware that it was possible to get cannabis-based medicinal products privately through clinics.

I feel uncomfortable with the concept of private health care. I hold the NHS as one of the greatest institutions in Scotland, with care being free at a point of use as a founding concept.

But I simply have no other option than to go private.

My experience so far

The experience has been very positive and I’ve been treated well at the private clinic. I’ve been taking cannabis oils and although it’s early days they seem to be making a difference to my levels of pain. And my leg spasms have decreased. I have very few side effects and the doses have been built up gradually.

I can’t state enough my view that cannabis-based treatment should be made available on the NHS to MS patients to try. I believe it has the potential to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Get involved

We want Sativex to be considered for the NHS in Scotland. If you have experience of accessing cannabis-based medicinal products we’d like to hear from you.

Please email [email protected]

More coming soon

The writer intends to write a blog in a few months time to write about how they are getting on with the clinic. Check back for their updates!

Read more about cannabis and MS