MULTIPLE sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that currently affects around 15,700 people in Scotland. Nearly 7000 patients are diagnosed every year across the UK. Many face a poor prognosis but in recent years patients around the world have found unparalleled respite from the effects and symptoms of MS by taking medicinal cannabis.

Learning development professional, Alison McEntee, 51, who lives in Glasgow, is one such patient. She says her MS has “gone into remission” thanks to a private medical cannabis prescription that consists of CBD and THC oil as well as whole-plant cannabis flower.

After being diagnosed in 2015, Alison was prescribed disease modifying drug Plegridy (interferon), but unfortunately the side effects she experienced were severe, and it did not alleviate any of her debilitating symptoms.

READ MORE: How to get a prescription for legal medical cannabis in the UK

“I was finding it difficult to walk more than a few hundred yards and I noticed a serious deterioration in my health,” she said. “I used Plegridy for year and a half but it seemed to make things worse. I felt like I was constantly down with the flu.”

Everything changed for Alison when, in 2017, she came across a Facebook support group where she saw a video of a man running at his daughter’s school sports day. He claimed that cannabis had dramatically improved his condition, so she reached out to learn more.

At the time, cannabis was not available to access on prescription, so Alison turned to the illicit market to try the drug.

“The prospect of buying illegally was terrifying,” she said. “I didn’t know if what I was buying was safe, but I was desperate.”

After first use, Alison found that her pain symptoms subsided significantly. She continued to smoke cannabis every evening, alongside switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, and after a few months she found that it made an enormous difference to her condition overall.

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“I suddenly had more energy, my spasticity was reduced to only my lower legs and ankles whereas before it was all over,” Alison explained. “I started to want to exercise, so I took up yoga and before long, I started running in the mornings. I couldn’t believe it!”

In 2019, Alison was able to obtain a private cannabis prescription for £400 per month – only after being denied access to cannabis medication Sativex on the NHS, due to the fact that her symptoms were dramatically improved, albeit due to cannabis use.

Since then, Alison has gone from strength to strength. “These days I get a bit of fatigue but other than that I have no symptoms. I feel MS-free – I don’t feel it’s part of my life any more,” Alison said. “I was told there was no cure or effective treatment, so it’s been hard to accept this. I still can’t quite believe it.

“It’s difficult for people to accept. A lot of my friends find it hard and don’t know what to do or say when I tell them cannabis has effectively cured me.

“It hasn’t made me feel just a wee bit better. The relief I get from using cannabis is massive. It had a strong effect the first time I used it – it was almost like I was waking up.

“Now it feels like I’ve reconnected parts of my body that I didn’t realise I couldn’t feel properly. I wanted to tell everyone but they don’t believe it works. If people only knew what cannabis can do, they might not be so quick to judge.”

Unfortunately, as cannabis is still not properly accessible on the NHS, Alison and thousands of other patients like her still have to pay for this potentially life-changing medication. Now that we are facing an unprecedented hike in energy and food bills that many are struggling to afford, Alison is being forced to choose between her health and living essentials.

She has contacted the First Minister in a plea to make cannabis medication available on the NHS, but is still awaiting a response.

“The pain of MS can be horrendous,” Alison said. “People with MS just cope with it but now I know they don’t have to. I feel in better shape now than I did in my 20s and I’ve experienced no negative side-effects. It’s strange feeling, especially when you’ve been told there’s no cure.”