Medicinal cannabis has changed my life. I now leave the house six days a week, I’ve gone back to work and have my life back. When it was legalised last November, I had a long battle with the NHS to get some, but it was only when I saw a private pain specialist, Dr David McDowell, that I managed to get a prescription — £2,500 for a three-month supply.
Carly Barton, 32, a former fine art lecturer from Brighton, developed fibromyalgia after a stroke, leaving her in constant pain. Other drugs did not help and after the law changed last month, allowing specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis, she was given a private prescription costing £2,500 for three months’ treatment.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust said it refused the referral – made by Ms Barton’s GP in August for a medication review to discuss an NHS prescription for medicinal cannabis – because the law had not yet changed when it was received.
Ms Barton, a deputy director of patient advocacy group United Patients Alliance, claimed many others are also still struggling to get treatment.
Carly Barton claims her experience of trying to get the treatment on the NHS since the law change feels ‘like being blacklisted’.
Ms Barton, 32, who is now a deputy director at the United Patients Alliance advocacy group, said trying to get NHS treatment has been “like being blacklisted”.
During this time she began working for United Patients Alliance, an organisation serving cannabis patients in the UK. As someone who has benefited from the drug herself, she is now campaigning for cannabis to be more readily available for the public.
Aside from being a medical marijuana patient, Barton is also deputy director of an advocacy group called United Patients Alliance. She called the legislative changes “pointless” if they aren’t followed up by fair guidelines.
In a video she uploaded to the United Patients Alliance Facebook group, she added: ‘The only thing that works for me is cannabis, that is the reason why I can stand up. ‘The new system is just not working, and we will not stop until we get everyone who needs their medicine gets. The reason is the cost is so high is because of import fees.’
Ms Barton, deputy director of patient advocacy group United Patients Alliance, added that there were interim guidelines that made it difficult for her to obtain prescriptions. Prescribers did not have the guidance to write prescriptions she said. She called it “prohibition under a different name.”
Former university lecturer Carly Barton, 32, was left with fibromyalgia – a condition which causes constant pain – after suffering a stroke in her early twenties.
Ms Barton, who used to teach fine art, began using cannabis illegally around two years ago after the strong opioid drugs, including morphine and fentanyl, she was prescribed left her feeling “zombied” while still in pain.
A woman suffering from fibromyalgia is believed to be the first patient in the UK to be prescribed medical cannabis following a change in the law.
Carly Barton has been suffering from the chronic pain condition since suffering a stroke in her early twenties.
A former university lecturer is believed to be the first patient in the UK to be prescribed cannabis by a doctor, following the legalisation of the drug for medical use.
Ms Barton, deputy director of patient advocacy group United Patients Alliance, said the change in legislation is “pointless” without a change in the guidelines.
Carly Barton, from Brighton, who suffers constant pain from fibromyalgia following a stroke in her 20s, was given a prescription by a private doctor who specialises in pain management.
The NHS is not funding the treatment, so she is having to pay £2,500 for three months' treatment herself.
Carly Jane Barton has fibromyalgia, for which she self-medicates with a variety of cannabis products.
"I'd not been able to not feel pain in my body for five years. That point was where I questioned everything I'd ever been told about what medicine is."
Jon Liebling, Political Director of the United Patients Alliance (UPA), said of the guidelines: "When you read them, you get the feeling they haven't put much thought into this other than to protect themselves from having to take on the entire responsibility and accountability for introducing an entire new classification of medicines." Although, to be fair, he added, the organizations drawing up these guidelines were given no more than three months for this gargantuan task.
A law change on 1 November was designed to allow a small number of patients to be prescribed cannabis-based products by specialist doctors in the UK.
The United Patients Alliance (UPA) said the new prescribing rules were unclear.
Clark French of the United Patients Alliance, which also campaigns for access to cannabis based medicine, thinks more could be done.
"The law change is brilliant and we're really pleased to see movement - but it's by no means enough," he told Sky News.
A large majority (60 percent) of respondents to a study commissioned by the United Patients Alliance—which represents the interests of medical cannabis patients in the UK—said they had substantially reduced the number of pharmaceutical drugs they were taking to manage a host of conditions after beginning to take cannabis medicinally.