Jacob Barrow never wanted his life to be about cannabis.
However Jacob, from Chorlton, says the plant’s concentrated extract is the only thing that helps with the chronic pain that has forced him to be unemployed and destroyed his dreams of pursuing music at university.
Jacob, 28, whose online petition to gain access to the cannabis-based treatment Satives on the NHS has gained more than 2,000 signatures, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia.
The resulting surgeries to operate on organs within his chest cavity have caused scarring and sever and persistent pain.
Sativex is a cannabis oil medicine that was deemed ‘too costly’ to be used by the NHS in England but it is available for MS sufferers in Wales.
Jacob told MM: “It’s not what I wanted my life to be, I didn’t want my life to be about cannabis. I never wanted that.
“I just want to have a medicine that doesn’t make me feel awful while it’s trying to make feel better. I’ve found a medicine that makes me feel better without any negative side effects apart from a little bit of silliness and giggliness every now and then.”
The symptoms Jacob suffers every day mean he struggles to eat. This combined with the side effects of nausea and drowsiness linked to the opiate-based painkillers he has been prescribed in the past, such as tramadaol and morphine, mean he currently weighs just over seven stone.
CANNABIS CURE: Sativex is a medicinal oil made with concentrated cannabis extract
Jacob currently buys cannabis illegally, which helps him to be able to eat properly, but it is expensive and his condition has made it impossible for him to work so he is living off benefits.
“Cannabis alleviates my symptoms and allows me to eat with comfort and confidence, something I haven’t had the joy of doing for a long time,” he said.
A budding musician, Jacob went to university to study music technology but his situation forced him to drop out. He now makes music on his computer and uploads it on to Soundcloud.
Jacob will undergo more tests in February, but believes that they won’t offer him a solution.
He added: “I’ve had all these tests before, I had them about three years ago. It’s just repeating the same procedure. I’ve just found myself being stuck in a cycle.”
On top of it all, Jacob currently faces a dilemma as he may need to move due to his financial situation and some devastating family news.
“My mum just got diagnosed with cancer so I feel like I should go home but if I went back to Staffordshire it will completely destroy my chances of getting Sativex or that kind of therapy,” he said.
“My whole family have been really supportive even my Grandma they’ve seen what I’m like on oxycodone and other opiates and I’m not in a good state.”
“I feel unbelievably stressed trying to get everything sorted.”
To his knowledge Sativex is available on prescription in South Manchester if it is approved by a consultant.
Jacob added: “Once my story made it into the news I did get contacted by people who have oil on offer, they donate to people around Manchester.
“£500 worth of oil can last you two to three weeks. It’s basically two ounces of medical grade flower condensed into five grams of oil. It’s very strong but it works, it really works!”
The Multiple Sclerosis Trust explains the position of Sativex in regard to the law.
They state: “Sativex was the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK. It is a class B drug and can only be lawfully possessed under a prescription issued by a qualified health professional.
“Passing Sativex to someone else, unless that person is lawfully entitled to possess the drug, amounts to unlawful supply of a controlled substance.”
The drug is licensed by GW Pharmaceuticals, who plan to develop a portfolio of cannabinoid medicines for the treatment of MS, cancer pain and epilepsy in children.
CRY FOR HELP: Jacob has appealed to Theresa May in a letter asking for Sativex to be made available on the NHS
They said: “Our vision is to be the global leaders in prescription cannabinoid medicines, through the rapid cost-effective development of pharmaceutical products which address clear unmet needs.”
For successful pain treatment the oil would contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the active ingredient.
Jacob has been lobbying politicians as well as tweeting celebrities to draw attention to his case.
He said: “I have been in contact with Sir Gerald Kaufman MP for Labour, John Leech and Norman Baker MP for the Liberal Democrats about my situation.
“On my behalf they have been in contact with the Department of Health, Iain Duncan Smith and Jeremy Hunt.”
The people close to Jacob are offering him their support as well as others, not just in the UK but around the world, who suffer or know someone who suffers from chronic pain.
His friend Joanna Greer is sympathetic to his cause. She said: “I have known Jake well and I have seen the pain he has gone through. It is cruel to deny someone pain relief when it is there readily available.”
Thomas Stanfield from Stockport agreed, saying: “People who are in pain should be able to use the most effective medicine without having to break the law.”
Jane Martins, another supporter from Manchester, said: “I believe Jake Barrow has the right to feel comfortable in his body.”
One of the petition signees from Wellington in the UK, Carrie Sealy, added: “This level of suffering, when relief is available via a health service that funds less necessary procedures and medications, is inhumane.”
Ben Ryan from Birmingham is a staunch supporter of cannabis as medicine. He said: “The war on drugs and restriction of its medicinal value is ignorant!”
Trisha De La Cruz, showing her support all the way from Canby in the US, was another advocate of Sativex. She said: “Everyone should have access to this plant”
Nakisha Esnard in Luton was also sympathetic, adding: “Living in pain isn’t living at all, bless you Jake, wish you the best of luck. I will share your cause to get more signatures.”
Australian Adam Koessler currently faces jail for giving cannabis oil to his dying daughter Rumer Rose, stating that it miraculously improved her condition – 50,000 have signed the petition against his arrest so far.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Use of cannabis for medical reasons is legal in some states in America but not the UK
Below is a copy of Jacob’s letter to Theresa May, Norman Baker, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens and John Leech.
“Please will you help me to alleviate my chronic pain in peace with the safest method for me, personally. Morphine and other prescriptions that I have tried have failed to address my issues and have made my situation and health worse.
Cannabis has had a hugely positive effect on my health and wellbeing apart from the illegality and cost which has worsened my quality of life.
I am jobless and penniless due to my chronic pain. I’m 27 years old, let me live my life and allow me to medicate the way that best works for me and my body.
I feel much safer being offered Sativex than risking more surgery.
This would change my life.
Mr. Jacob L. Barrow”
Jacob hopes to get 2,500 signatures on his online petition. To show your support, click here.
Images courtesy of Heath Alseike, Mark, UK Home Office and David Trawin, with thanks.