:: Putting My Head Above the Parapet ::

A little while ago Helen from the MSRC got in touch. She told me that Yorkshire Television was looking for somebody with MS who used cannabis to help alleviate their symptoms. She knew that I used cannabis and wondered if I would be prepared to talk about it on television. I didn't give her my answer right away. I like a quiet life and have no wish to become a martyr but after thinking about it for a while decided that on balance I should to do it. What swayed me I will go into later but first let me tell you about what happened with the television people.

I was given the name of a lady at the TV station and we talked together by telephone. She sounded really enthusiastic and promised to get in touch again soon. The next day though she phoned telling me I lived too far away and they needed someone who lived closer. I was a little disappointed after psyching myself up but shrugged my shoulders and thought maybe it's for the best.

About a week later she phoned again to ask if I would do it. When I answered in the affirmative she asked, "Would it be possible for you do it today?" I said of course I would. It wasn't as if my diary was full.

The television crew arrived about three o'clock that afternoon. There was a cameraman, a soundman and the interviewer. They asked if I was prepared to smoke cannabis in front of the camera. I agreed to do it, why not? Looking back, perhaps it would've been better if we had got the interview in the first. The cameraman couldn't get the shot of me smoking my pipe quite right and we had to do the scene about six times before he was satisfied. I got ever so stoned!

I told them that I eat cannabis chocolate just prior to my going to bed because my legs could get very jumpy otherwise. They were extremely interested in the chocolate and wanted to know the

I will give you the recipe now.

I use only the best ingredients; first you melt three large bars of Green and Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate then you grate a quarter ounce of pollen, into the melted chocolate. Pollen is usually pure and easy to grate, none of your soap bar rubbish! That usually does me for quite a long time.

I keep a supply of this most delicious confectionary by my bed rather than my little pipe because if my legs do get bad during the night smoking in bed is a no-no. I wouldn't like to burn the house down! One of them, I won't say which, had a little nibble and everybody seemed to be in a good mood, with all the passive smoking.

The interviewer was obviously very experienced when it came to making you feel relaxed, there again by the time of the interview I was very relaxed already! His first question was

"How long have you smoked cannabis?"

"I have smoked it for 37 years and I'm still looking for the side effects. There aren't many drugs that you get from the chemist you can say that about."

He asked me whether I thought cannabis should be legalized. I replied that it was only an accident of history it is illegal today. When asked what I meant by that I told him, "If Walter Raleigh had brought back the right stuff the world would be a better place!"

The programme itself, for me, was a bit of a disappointment. It was called Sunday Soapbox and was half an hour long but the section about cannabis only lasted 15 minutes. The format was that interested parties would give their view on the legalization of cannabis and afterwards three MPs from the main parties discussed what had gone before.

There were five interested parties;

A policeman who just basically explained what the present law was concerning cannabis.

A lecturer who was an expert in addictions and he told us that if cannabis wasn't about the cases of schizophrenia would go down by 14%.

Somebody addicted to heroin who swore that he started out with cannabis. In my opinion he might as well have said, "I started out with a glass of beer or even a glass of water!" There are some people who have addictive personalities and they will always want to go for a greater buzz. I have never at any time had a wish to take anything like heroin.

I tell a lie actually; smoking dope can lead onto harder drugs. Smoking joints led me on to tobacco and I spent more than 20 years trying to kick that diabolical habit.

On the other side of the argument was a guy who sold cannabis related products at a market stall and me. We got about five minutes between us and the MPs spent the next 10 minutes talking about what we had said. I must have got about 30 seconds. At least they left my Walter Raleigh line in. I was pleased about that.

Why was I persuaded to put my head above the parapet? I have a particularly nasty disease. I am in a wheelchair permanently and the only reason I'm able to write this is because I use voice recognition technology. The medical profession hasn't come up with a cure and there doesn't appear as though there is one on the horizon. A bit of pot makes me feel better about my situation and for that reason I will continue to use it. It will not help everybody but I feel that everyone in our situation should be given a chance to use whatever they believe helps them.

I'm not worried about anything the police can do to me. If they fine me I won't pay it and then what? Will they lock me up? I don't think so. I need a carer every morning. Anyway, apart from the odd trip to the dentist you could say I am under house arrest already. I find it really bizarre that it is possible to get seriously addictive drugs like opiates and tranquilizers on prescription while at the same time it is impossible to get cannabis.

How can I accept things the way they are? There is something wrong when a politician be able to say I can't have something I know makes me feel better about the world I have to live in. At the moment we appear to be in limbo. Maybe this article will help to get things moving again.