A dad battling a brain tumour says he's been forced to break the law or die – by taking cannabis oil which he believes could extend his life.
Philip James, 33, says he plans to grow the drug in order to tackle the debilitating seizures he suffers from.
He told North Wales Live that he uses around 5ml of cannabis oil containing banned Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – which has psychoactive properties – on a daily basis for medicinal purposes.
Mr James, from Flintshire, was diagnosed with a grade three tumour at the end of 2015.
At first he started taking a weaker product called CBD Indica, which is rich in cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) but doesn't contain THC, complemented by a strict diet and radiotherapy.
He has previously suffered seizures every six to eight weeks.
Mr James, who is married to wife Nicola and has a a six-month-old daughter called Phoebe Elizabeth, also had six clear brain scans, meaning there was only a minimal trace of his tumour – which he said was because of CBD.
But the tumour returned in February of this year, and Mr James began undergoing chemotherapy.
This, he says, resulted in him switching to the stronger cannabis oil containing THC, which he feels will be more effective.
He said: "Before this recurrence of the cancer I was vaping. When it came back I switched to the oil because I needed a higher dose. Chemotherapy kills daughter cells and cannabis attacks cancer stem cells."
The UK Government made unlicensed cannabis legal for medicinal purposes if prescribed by a specialist consultant, on November 1 last year.
However, there have been widespread complaints it has only been made available via private consultation – and even then the Government has kept little to no stocks of the drug making it largely unavailable. Under the new law it cannot be prescribed by a GP.
Mr James says he's now being made to act illegally and told North Wales Live: "The tragedy is that only a small amount of people have been prescribed because they were on private healthcare. It's not being done on the NHS.
"If you are rich you can get the prescription but you can't get the cannabis.
"The oil is expensive and if you are buying from the criminal market you don't know what is in it. So I thought I am going to grow it. If I grow it I will know exactly what's in it.
"Hopefully taking a higher dose of the oil will insure me against seizures – which I think have come back partly because of the chemotherapy.
"The Government is forcing me to break the law or die."
The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that up to the end of March this year only one prescription for unlicensed medical cannabis had been dispensed in the English secondary care system, and that was privately.
Trials have already shown the drug helps with epileptic seizures and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
A new drug, Epidiolex, which contains THC, was dispensed to epilepsy sufferers 94 times between November 2018 and January 2019 in England – none to cancer sufferers.
A Welsh Government spokeswoman confirmed not a single dose of unlicensed medicinal cannabis had been dispensed in Wales.
Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who has met Mr James several times campaigning for a change in the law, was supportive of his cause.
He said: "My heart goes out to Phil James and the countless other people like him who are being criminalised needlessly.
"The legal position in relation to medicinal cannabis has been well and truly fudged as a matter of political expediency, to avoid a PR disaster caused by the heartrending cases of several children like the chronically ill Billy Caldwell, who needs cannabis oil to ward off life-threatening fits.
"It is unjust and cruel that people living with conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis who use cannabis are putting themselves at risk of being prosecuted.
"There is a simple answer to this. Cannabis should be regulated and people should either be able to buy it over the counter through pharmacies and shops or be able to grow a limited amount for their own use.
"It goes without saying that cannabis oil to aid people like Phil James should be freely available so they can be helped in their time of need."
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