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8 April 2019, 11:16 | Updated: 8 April 2019, 11:20
A Brighton woman, who received one of the UK's first private prescriptions for medicinal cannabis, says she's resorted to growing the drug herself because the cost of ongoing treatment was too expensive.
Carly Barton, 32, uses it to cope with the pain she suffers from fibromyalgia, following a stroke she had in her early twenties.
It is believed Ms Barton was one of the first people to access cannabis legally following a change in the law last year.
She was prescribed medicinal cannabis through a private pain specialist, but says the prescription cost her around £1,300 a month, wiping out her savings.
The former university lecturer, says she managed to get an NHS prescription pending approval by a medical board. But that was rejected because of it being an untested medicine.
Ms Barton said: "I am going to openly break the law until I can access my medicine or they give me some kind of exemption.
"I do not see myself as a criminal. There are two doctors who have prescribed it to me and now there is a vague law which does not seem to see it as a potential medicine."
She added that "it looks like you can't legally get cannabis on the NHS because the evidence does not exist as yet (to say it is safe) because it has been illegal for so long."
Ms Barton, who used to teach fine art, began using cannabis illegally after the strong opioid drugs she was prescribed, including morphine and fentanyl, left her feeling "zombied" but still "crying in pain".
She has written an open letter to the Sussex Police Crime Commissioner, stating she has "no other choice" than to grow the drug maintain her health.
Ms Barton said: "I do not want to be a zombie or back in a wheelchair. I want to live my life and cannabis enables me to do that.
"I am feeling trapped in a very odd situation. I am frustrated."
It is believed that NHS England has been asked by the Secretary of State to undertake a process review to identify if there are any improvements that can be made to the system for prescribing medicinal cannabis.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The Government has delivered on its promise and specialist doctors can now prescribe cannabis-based medical products where there is clinical evidence of benefit.
"To support doctors prescribing these products, we have asked the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to develop additional clinical guidelines and are working with Health Education England to provide additional training.
"We are also promoting more research through the National Institute for Health Research to further improve the evidence base."