Lisa Andrews has vowed to continue growing cannabis to help alleviate her long term health problems after she was arrestedĀ on suspicion of dealing cannabis.
The 42-year-old from Sheffield, who is suffering with heart failure and arthritis, has hit out at theĀ Ā£3,655 cost of medical cannabis licenses.
Officers say they found 50 cannabis plants in her house, but Lisa says she needs that many to make the oil.
She says she cannot afford to buy it after she lost her business and the Government stopped her benefits for six months after they ālost the paperworkā. She is now homeless.
It comes after theĀ Home Office announced it will review the Ā£3,655 cost of medical cannabis licenses. Campaigners have criticised the price tag after aĀ new panel allowed patients to access the drug, but the initiative received less than five responses.
Lisa, who is currently āsofa surfingā with friends told i: āIām a law abiding citizen ā I have never even got a speeding ticket or a fine.
āWithout cannabis I wouldnāt be able to get up out of bed all day from the agony. You need a lot of the plant to make a small amount of oil. I canāt afford to buy it and growing it is cheaper.
āItās all good the Government saying it will make medical cannabis available but who can afford Ā£3,655? It needs to be full legalised to stop this nonsense. I will keep on growing it and the police will get bored of busting me before I will stop.ā
āWith all thatās been going on my depression has worsened, and cannabis keeps me saneā
Lisa Andrews, medicinal cannabis userĀ
Lisa has a host of medical problems that leave her in severe pain, breathless, suffering palpitations, anxious and depressed. Last year she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy ā a disease of the heart muscle which affects its size, shape and structure ā which has led to heart failure.
This year she also discovered the deformities she was born with in both hands isĀ Holt-Oram syndrome, leading to additionalĀ heart problems ā which can be life-threatening. She was recently told she has a leaking aortic valve. She also suffers with cervical spondylosis, commonly known as neck arthritis.
Lisa said she lost her hairdressing business last November after her landlord told her to move out of the premises and her health has deteriorated since.
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Officers then arrested Lisa in April as part of a police blitz which turned up Ā£40,000 of illegal drugs in the area andĀ she remains under investigation.
Lisa said: āIāve smoked cannabis for around 20 years and while Iāve always felt it helped my mental health, now it helps me enormously with my physical pain.
āI really noticed if I have a day without it that Iām in total agony. With all thatās been going on my depression has worsened, and cannabis keeps me sane.
āIn 2016 the UK produced 95 tonnes of cannabis ā they are the biggest exporter [of legal cannabis] in the world yet they are arresting people like me who canāt afford a licence to get the drug they need. Itās ludicrous.ā
Lisa says she will continue to grow the drug and contacted South Yorkshire Police to ask for clarification of the law, but so far has got no response.
Call for medicinal cannabis licence fee to be scrapped
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil isĀ legal in the UKĀ ā but products are required to contain a maximum THC content of 0.2 per cent. There have been calls for stronger versions to be made legal.
A newĀ panel was recently set up to advise the Government about the effects of medical marijuana amid theĀ outcry over the case of severely epileptic boy Billy Caldwell who had his CBD oil confiscated by officials at Heathrow Airport.
As part of a two-part review, it announced at the end of June that prescriptions forĀ medicinal cannabis could be prescribed within a fortnight.Ā Doctors have to prove there is an āexceptional clinical needā and no other medicine would be suitable for their patient.
The Government has made it clear the legalisation of recreational cannabis is not up for debate.
However, less than five responses were sent in, which has reportedly cast doubts over the panelās effectiveness,Ā The Independent reported last week.
Activists are now calling for the Government to abolish the licence fees and cite the thousands of patients living with conditions for which cannabis could potentially relieve symptoms.
Steve Moore, director of Volteface, a think tank that has called for drug policy reform, said: āThe swift response by the Government this past month will be undermined if these fees are imposed at the end of the license process. I would call on the Government to abolish these fees with immediate effect.ā
Recreational cannabis is an illegal class B drug in the UK, alongside amphetamines and barbiturates. Possession could result in a five-year prison sentence and those who supply the drug face up to 14 years in jail.Ā Possession is illegal whatever youāre using it for, including pain relief.
Cannabis has been linked to improvements in chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nauseaĀ andĀ vomitingĀ fromĀ chemotherapy for cancer patients.
Lisa blames the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for her being homeless. She says she claimed Employment and Support Allowance āĀ money if you cannot work because of illness or disability ā in December and received a few weeksā money but then it stopped.
āI knew I couldnāt have carried on working much longer with my health problems but then I was forced to sign on after I lost my business,ā she said.Ā āI was paid for a few weeks but Iāve had zero money from the Government from January to June. I was told theyād lost my paperwork. Iāve now had one payment in July but Iām still chasing the back payments.
āIāve been living in my overdraft and Iām lucky Iāve had good friends to borrow money from and put me up otherwise I would have been going to food banks and been on the streets.ā
TheĀ DWP has been approached for comment.
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