This is the most joyous news that I have dreamed of writing for years. Legal access to herbal medicinal cannabis in Britain has been achieved!
Following a procedure on which we have offered advice and guidance, a CLEAR member has returned to the UK from Holland with 90g of Bedrocan medicinal cannabis which was prescribed by his UK GP. He declared the medicine at customs, all 18 tubs containing five grams each were examined, he showed the various documentation which we have obtained and he was authorised to proceed.
Clarence Clear (not his real name) is a 33 year old from just outside London who has a background working in the licensed trade. His health problems started when he was beaten up and mugged at age 13 and at age 18 he suffered a severe spinal injury. Further accidents exacerbated the problem and he now suffers from chronic pain, sciatica, degenerative spinal disease, spondylitis and spinal stenosis. Most recently he has been diagnosed with adiposis dolorosa, also known as Dercum's disease which produces painful tumours on the spine which may spread to other parts of the body.
He has been prescribed the usual cocktail of opioids and other painkillers including fentanyl, tramadol and baclofen. He developed analgesia migraines due to the large number of painkillers he was taking and even had to undergo cranial nerve injections in his skull to try and deal with the pain. He had used cannabis occasionally in the past and discovered that it offered him enormous relief without side effects.
Fortunately, Clarence's doctor was understanding of his cannabis use and quickly came to realise the enormous benefit it was offering him. Great credit must go to this so far unsung hero who took it on himself to investigate the options available. He determined that Sativex was not the answer, not least because of its cost and notorious post code lottery prescribing issues. Also, its very nature is to slow down absorption of cannabinoids into the system and so it cannot be as effective as vapourised or smoked cannabis. In the end, it was Clarence's doctor who researched and recommended a Bedrocan product.
So Clarence obtained a prescription for Bedrobinol (Bedrocan's 12% THC <1% CBD product) from his GP. On his behalf , I submitted an application for a personal import licence to the Home Office.
So, earlier this month, equipped with the prescription and copies of correspondence with the Home Office, Clarence set out, supported by his partner of four years. They flew to Schiphol and after a brief visit to an Amsterdam coffeeshop took the train to the northern city of Groningen where they had already made arrangements with a pharmacy.
Busted For Mustard!
The couple have now returned safely to the UK. Ironically they were stopped at customs in Schiphol before boarding but there was no interest in the medicine, only in a jar of Dutch mustard which they were told they could not travel with and it was seized!
The flight home was uneventful and so, hearts in their mouths, they chose the red channel and told an officer that they had medicine to declare. I can only imagine the tension of the next few minutes. Apparently a group of young men who been stopped watched in disbelief as a Border Agency officer examined and smelt the cannabis and then waved Clarence and his partner through. The officer commended them on being open, honest and straightforward, saying that if they had been stopped without making a declaration, things could have been very different.
I now intend to write to the Home Office, explaining what has happened and asking for confirmation that anyone else with a prescription from their doctor may follow the same process. It maybe that they will claim this was a mistake but we have taken legal advice and it would be impossible to secure a conviction against Clarence.
We have made the breakthrough. I believe we will be able to extend this to others. We will be seeking to agree a protocol with the Home Office which will clarify the position for patients as well as Border Agency staff and the police and eliminate any uncertainty for everyone. What has made the difference is that the prescription was written by a UK doctor, we were completely upfront with the Home Office in advance and, as we discussed in some depth beforehand, Clarence was scrupulous in being open and honest at all stages.
So, many congratulations to Clarence and his partner for their courage. I say again, we have made the breakthrough!