Carly Barton, Deputy Director at United Patients Alliance, is thought to have become the first UK patient to be prescribed cannabis – but she has had to pay a private specialist £2,500 for just three months’ worth. She described it as a “strategic” move to test and expose the system. She hopes that an NHS specialist will renew her prescription or she faces being forced to return to the black market.
“We are going to be put in a position where the rich are patients and the poor are criminals,” she told the Daily Mirror.
Carly, 32, has had fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, since suffering a stroke in her early twenties.
One of the products she has been prescribed is Bedrocan, a sativa in flower form which is 22% THC, and the other is Bedica, another Bedrocan product, an indica flower which is 14% THC. Both contain less than 1% CBD. Carly will receive 90g of each, ie 1g a day.
She still faces a wait to receive the medicines while a special importing licence is set up, as the Home Office is yet to arrange a standardised licence. That contributes to the high cost, along with the fact that the import fees are applied per pot – and each pot is small.
In a Facebook video Carly said she had decided to go ahead with the private prescription to “test the system” folloing the law change that saw cannabis medicine rescheduled on 1 November, albeit with very strict guidelines which meant only specialist doctors – who mostly remain relectant and sceptical – could make prescriptions and not GPs.
Carly said the £2,500 was “every I have” and that “I feel this is a route to getting an NHS prescription” because it could “prove efficacy” to NHS specialists. “As soon as the first NHS specialist tips that balance then we have opened the floodgates for the rest of the country.”
If it doesn’t then it will prove that the law change has only created an “unfair, two-tier system” in which only those who can afford £10,000 a year can treat themselves legally. This is therefore a stretegic move to prepare the ground for a push to get the guidelines changed.
Carly told Sky News that she was “overjoyed that this piece of paper [her prescription] exists” because she wouldn’t have to “look over my shoulder worrying about the police”. But she cannot afford to carry on paying such an extortianate amount of money and told the Mirror that the current guidelines “worth the paper they’re printed on”.
In a recent meeting with the Home Office, NHS England and the Royal College of Physicians, Carly said that the current system “isn’t good enough”, that the guidelines needed to be “relaxed” and that specialists needed proper training so that they feel confident enough to make prescriptions.
Carly said that receiving the prescription from her pain specialist Dr McDowell had been been “empowering” and that she hoped all patients in need of cannabis prescriptions would soon get to experience the same feeling. “I will not stop and the UPA will not stop until you all have the medicine that you need.”
McDowell told Sky News that the medicine reduces Carly’s pain and spasms within 15 minutes. “As a result of this she is no longer bed bound for days on end and can do daily activities and hold down a job. There is a positive effect on her wellbeing and quality of life.” He added that the present system for prescribing cannabis is “drawn out, which is concerning”.
He told the Mirror: “I don’t think anybody is going to say this is a magic wonder-drug, but it’s certainly true to say there is evidence it is beneficial. It is used quite widely in other parts of the world and there is increasing evidence of people being able to reduce their opioid consumption and maybe other drugs as well. That’s why I feel it’s the right way forward.”