A multiple sclerosis sufferer left in such excruciating pain that she wanted to hack her legs off with a chainsaw says cannabis has turned her life around.
Alexandra Fisher was diagnosed with MS in 2014 and had to quit her job as a part-time sports coach that year because of her agony.
The 51-year-old, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, became reliant on a wheelchair after the NHS-prescribed drugs to relieve her chronic pain.
But after being given medical cannabis in 2021, Ms Fisher claims she can now walk her dog again.
She is also less reliant on her chair and has felt a huge improvement in her mental wellbeing.
Alexandra Fisher, 51, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1995, and multiple sclerosis in 2014
But after being prescribed medical cannabis in 2021, she claims she can now walk her dog (pictured), is less reliant on her chair and has felt a huge improvement in her mental wellbeing
She had to quit her job as a part-time sports coach that year and was left reliant on a wheelchair after a succession of NHS treatments proved unable to relieve her chronic pain
Ms Fisher, who was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the 1990s, said: ‘My pain is now finally something I can keep at a constant annoying niggle rather than: “Oh my God, my legs are on fire.”‘
Her pain still spikes to an eight or nine out of 10 if she does ‘too much’ — but claims she averages about a four now, which she described as ‘bearable’.
She said: ‘It does not make me want to break my legs in half or hack my legs off with a chainsaw, which I have threatened to do on many occasions.’
Unlike recreational cannabis sold on the street, medicinal is grown and processed to pharmaceutical standards.
Certain types are legal in Britain following a landmark decision in 2018 , but very few patients have been able to secure a prescription. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe it on the NHS.
Medicinal cannabis typically comes as an oil or spray containing either cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the psychoactive element of cannabis that causes the ‘high’, although some formulations of medical cannabis contain both CBD and THC.
In 2014, Ms Fisher, who lives with her partner and stepdaughter, was approved for an experimental cannabis spray called Sativex as a result of her MS.
However, her local NHS trust was not one of the 39 in Britain that prescribe and fund the treatment — which costs a whopping £500-a-month when prescribed privately.
But in 2021, Ms Fisher, who is back working as a bursary administrator at a local school, received a private prescription for 30g of medicinal cannabis from Harley Street’s Lyphe Clinic.
It costs just £150-a-month, which works out as a £4,200-a-year saving compared to Sativex.
She uses an e-cigarette-like vaporiser to take the medical cannabis, as opposed to smoking it — which doctors advise against.
Before taking cannabis, Ms Fisher had tried drugs including gabapentin, pregabalin, diazepam and tramadol – but none relieved her of the pain.
Ms Fisher added: ‘I can go to concerts again and not just exist within four walls.
‘What cannabis has given me back is the ability to participate in life again, even if it is only on a part-time basis.’
Medical cannabis was made legal in the UK after parents of two boys with severe epilepsy campaigned for its legalisation.
The mother of Billy Caldwell was forced to break the law by importing THC-rich cannabis oil to try to reduce her son’s seizures, while Alfie Dingley’s mother temporarily moved to Holland to access it.
It was revealed in June that some 9,000 patients now have medical cannabis prescriptions in Britain, mostly from private providers, for conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Users believe that smoking or inhaling vaporised cannabis can help to reduce symptoms, but experts say clinical evidence is lacking.