- Emily Drayton, Staff Writer
BBC: Scotland's First Patients Prescribed Legal Cannabis
"Scotland's first medical cannabis clinic has begun prescribing to patients suffering from chronic pain conditions.
The Sapphire Medical Clinic in Stirling was approved by regulators in March and received hundreds of inquiries.
The private clinic provides unlicensed cannabis-based medicines for people with conditions that do not meet the criteria for NHS-prescribed cannabis products.
Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018 and doctors are allowed to prescribe it in certain situations.
However, so far only one product - for children with rare forms of epilepsy - is available on the NHS in Scotland.
Heather - not her real name - is one of the first Scottish patients to receive unlicensed medical cannabis from the private clinic. She told BBC Scotland's The Nine that she has suffered from arthritis and neuropathic pain for a decade. She said she had previously received opioid medication but it had little effect on her chronic pain. Heather, who is a healthcare professional in her mid-50s, said:
"Acute pain is pretty miserable and affects your whole life, your whole outlook. Some days I can't even manage buttons. There's so much I could be doing with my family that I am not ready to do, and I can't do, because of chronic pain."
For the past four weeks, she has been vaping dried cannabis flowers and taking oil containing the drug's main psychoactive ingredient THC. She paid about £100 for her first batch of medicine.
Heather said: "Because it is such a low, carefully-controlled dose, it is slowly building up to affect the actual pain receptors themselves. It feels as though those senses are being dulled in areas where I have got pain. Rather than feeling totally high, I haven't felt any side effects of that of the cannabis medication. To me, I see it as a trial at the moment. There is certainly anecdotal evidence that it helps people. But I want to know if it is going to help me and my quality of life."
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[Hand image from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-57414001]