A fibromyalgia sufferer has become the first Brit to gain a prescription for cannabis since the UK government legalized medical marijuana.
Carly Barton of Brighton will pay £2,500 ($3,200) of her own money to secure a three-month supply from a producer in The Netherlands as the National Health Service will not help with costs. She has been buying marijuana illegally until now, but she has gained a prescription from David McDowell, a private pain specialist.
“It’s momentous that this has happened,” she said. “It’s the first prescription that was written since cannabis was made illegal since 1928. It’s made history, this bit of paper.”
For $3,200 she will gain enough cannabis to consume 2 grams per day, which works out at 180 grams over the three months. That equates to $17.77 per gram, which is a lot more than she would be paying if she bought it on the black market.
Dutch firm Bedrocan will supply the cannabis and it charges just €6 ($6.80) per gram. The rest of the money will go on the costs of importing it, Barton claimed. It seems like a convoluted system, as plenty of cannabis is grown in the UK and domestic firms could supply Barton and other patients, ensuring they source cheaper marijuana, or a more efficient import industry could be put in place.
Barton said she is spending all her savings on the three-month supply and she hopes that the NHS will cover some of her costs in future. She has reported that cannabis has reduced the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia, while it also allowed her to stop taking a strong opioid that came with many negative side effects.
She went from being bedridden to increasing her function, and she hopes that if she documents how much cannabis is helping her it will “open the floodgates”, encouraging the NHS to pay for thousands of pain sufferers to source medicinal marijuana.
Barton also joined the growing chorus of patients lobbying the British government to relax the extremely strict guidelines in place that make it difficult for specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis. The law changed on Nov. 1, allowing thousands of consultants to prescribe it, but a month later she is the only Brit to actually get anywhere, showing that there is still a long way to go before a lucrative cannabis market opens up in the UK.