MARIJUANA RESEARCH ? why wait ,we already know enough.
sara119 at xs4all.nl
Sun Aug 1 06:31:36 EDT 2004
Tony Thompson, crime correspondent
Sunday August 1, 2004
Once a month, Kate Bradley leaves her neat, semi-detached home in Telford,
Shropshire, in search of the street dealer who supplies her with around £100
of premium quality cannabis. For the past six years she has taken the drug,
either rolled into joints or baked into cakes, at least four times a day in
order to ease the crippling agonies of multiple sclerosis, the degenerative
disease which has put her in a wheelchair.
She is now one of the leading lights in the campaign, supported by an early
day motion tabled in the Commons last week, to have the drug legalised for
medicinal purposes. Around 85,000 people in the UK suffer from MS and
increasing numbers of them risk arrest by using cannabis to alleviate their
But for Kate Bradley the decision to turn to the class C drug was harder
than for most: before she became ill she worked as an undercover officer for
the West Midlands police.
'I worked on the drug squad, infiltrating clubs and other venues where the
dealers operated,' she said last week. 'It was dangerous work. One time I
was forced to get into a furious argument to stop my cover being blown. We
went after people selling cocaine, LSD and, of course, cannabis. At the time
I felt that these were bad people who had broken the law and that it was my
job to deal with them. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way and I am
the bad person.'
She added: 'I've tried everything, even morphine, but cannabis is the only
thing that helps. For me it's not a recreational drug - it's a lifesaver.
When I have an attack the pain is everywhere. It goes from the soles of my
feet right up through my legs, my torso into my eyes and even into my mouth.
I feel like I'm being stung by millions of bees all at the same time all
over my body. Then I end up feeling like I'm on fire, it's as if there's a
blowtorch against my skin. And at the same time, there are tight metal bands
around my legs and arms, so tight they make me want to chop them off.'
The Home Office has been examining the issue of medicinal cannabis for more
than four years and is still not able to say when a decision will be made.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency was expected to
conclude its review of trials by a pharmaceutical company at the end of last
year but has yet to rule on the issue.
Last month Peter Bradley (no relation), the Labour MP for Wrekin, wrote to
Home Office minister Caroline Flint, urging her to authorise the controlled
and limited production of cannabis for medicinal use. She has yet to reply.
'The government should allow those with MS to make their own decisions as to
whether the risk from medicinal cannabis might pose a greater threat to
their health than the disease from which they suffer,' he told The Observer.
'There is a moral duty to give sufferers the right to choose.'
Last year, a UK study of more than 600 people concluded that cannabis-based
medicines might be of benefit to some MS sufferers. The Multiple Sclerosis
Society said there was a good case for those who might benefit from the drug
being able to have treatment provided on the NHS.
Peter Bradley's motion has attracted all-party support which in turn has
prompted Kate to speak out about the ethical dilemmas she faces every time
she uses the drug.
'I first heard about cannabis when I was with a group of friends who also
suffered from MS. One of the women there suggested I try cannabis. I shrank
back right away. I thought to myself, "I am an ex-police officer. I used to
arrest drug dealers, how can I possibly start using them?" I had to fight
with my conscience but the fight didn't last very long. The pain was getting
worse and worse, it was getting so I just couldn't live with it any more. I
didn't want to be around if I was going to suffer like that.
'Once I had decided to go ahead I had to work out how to get hold of a
supplier. It was very demeaning, going out on to the street in my wheelchair
to find a seller.
'I eventually found someone. At first he suspected I was an undercover
police officer and they were being set up. It was horribly ironic. The whole
thing took place out in the street and I was sitting there thinking that in
another life, I would have been arresting this person. I gave him the money,
he gave me a package and that was it. We have been meeting once a month ever
'The first time I took it I was terrified because I really didn't know what
the effects were going to be. But when I did I just couldn't believe it.
Within half an hour the pain had started to fade for the first time in
years. I just couldn't grasp the fact that there was something so much more
effective than all the conventional medicine I had tried, yet it was not
available on prescription. It didn't make any sense.
'The government seems to be blasé about our fate. I cannot believe the
research is taking so long and anyway I do not need any research because I
know exactly what works for me. All that I and hundreds of other MS
sufferers want is some compassion.'
tony.thompson at observer.co.uk
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