A disabled woman who has spent thousands on medical cannabis has said it helps her lead a “pain-free” life.
Victoria Paris, who was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, had her lower leg amputated as a result of peripheral vascular disease which left her with chronic pain.
The 41-year-old previously bought the drug on the street until medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018 and she obtained a private prescription – costing £580 a month.
The Inverness mum told STV News: “It’s changed my life. I’ve had to make cutbacks to do so, but it’s worth it.
“I cannot force my leg into its joint when it swells with too much pain, so it [medical cannabis] can be the difference between putting my prosthetic leg on and having a normal, everyday life – being a mum, a partner, looking after my house, family and dogs – and being in a wheelchair.”
However, despite the availability of prescribed cannabis, it’s estimated that around 170,000 people in Scotland are still buying the substance on the black market to manage health conditions.
Victoria was prescribed high-dose opioids by her doctor for years, leaving her feeling “spaced out”, and found that cannabis helped her function better day to day.
She said a private prescription allowed her to legally access different strains and strengths.
“It is cheaper to buy on the streets than a legal prescription, but you don’t know what you’re getting,” she said.
“The clinic discusses what’s right for you and gives you what you need. It’s a huge weight off people’s minds to not worry about police turning up at your door.
“But it would be beneficial if patients could grow their own due to the cost of living.”
Experts warn that illegally sourced cannabis poses a risk to mental and physical health, and stressed there were no safeguards to ensure it is safe for human consumption.
They said it also put people at risk by engaging in criminal activity, whereas prescribed medical cannabis is manufactured to a pharmaceutical standard.
Dr Simon Erridge, head of research and access at Sapphire Medical Clinics, said: “It is really important that we raise awareness that medical cannabis can be prescribed by specialist physicians in the UK.
“Medical cannabis in the UK must conform to regulated guidance minimising the harm that individuals could be exposed to through accessing cannabis through an illicit market.
“It’s important to caveat with the fact that medical cannabis is not a panacea, it’s not a silver bullet and may not be the most appropriate treatment for everybody.
“But it’s important that people should be made aware of their options. If it is an appropriate treatment, you should be able to access it.”