Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2016
Source: Daily Record (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd.
Author: Stephen Stewart


Amputee's Plea to Legalise Medical Marijuana

A WAR hero who lost both legs in an Afghan bomb blast is forced to 
break the law to get cannabis to ease his pain.

Lance Corporal Callum Brown is now leading calls to legalise the drug 
for medical use. He wants to see cannabis made available to patients 
like him who suffer agonising pain 24 hours a day.

Callum, 28, also shattered his pelvis in the huge explosion after he 
stepped on a boobytrap bomb while on patrol in Helmand five years 
ago. Speaking exclusively to the Record, he said: "As well as my 
other injuries, I have no skin on my backside  it's just thin scar 
tissue so the nerve damage and the phantom pains are the main reason 
for smoking.

"It also helps with depression as it's easy to get a bit down. After 
seeing kids suffering and mothers of dead children screaming in my 
face in Afghanistan, asking why we did this, I decided enough was enough.

"I wanted to speak out to make sure children don't go on suffering.

"Kids with epilepsy and other conditions can be helped with some of 
the active ingredients in cannabis.

"Cannabis has been used for thousands of years. Ancient people knew 
all about its medicinal qualities.

"I shouldn't have to be a criminal to get something that eases my 
pain and makes life easier.

"After I was injured in Afghanistan, the doctors had me on strong 
painkillers. These chemicals had very strong side-effects - they 
could even make you suicidal, which obviously wasn't good when I was 
trying to cope with my injuries.

"With cannabis, there is no down side. It eases my pain.

"My injuries mean I am effectively sitting on the base of my spine 
all day. When I am sitting down, I am sitting on bone. Cannabis takes 
the edge off the searing pain.

"It should be legal for medical use for people like me who really 
need it, not people who just take it to get high.

"Cannabis has all sorts of medical uses - I saw some terrible 
suffering in Afghanistan, especially with young kids.

"I just want to make sure children get whatever they need. I don't 
want suffering children to be denied anything that could help take 
away their pain.

"It's important that doctors have the full arsenal of pain relief 
available to them. I have seen enough suffering and don't want to 
witness any more.

"As I get older, I realise how important it is that we look out for 
people, especially young ones. In Afghanistan, that was the worst 
thing, seeing how the kids suffered through no fault of their own."

Callum, from Penicuik, Midlothian, is now leading calls for the law 
to be changed so that British doctors can prescribe the medical 
cannabis he needs to ease his pain.

He was injured in 2011 in an explosion during his last patrol before 
he was due to return home to fiancee Laura Taylor.

The couple had been due to marry but were forced to cancel their 
plans after the bomb blast. Instead they tied the knot in a ceremony 
at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital where Callum was treated 
after being flown home from Camp Bastion.

Callum, who served with 2 Scots, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, lost 
two thirds of his body weight as he recovered from the blast. At one 
point, he was taking more than 30 pills a day to deal with the pain - 
but now he says smoking a small amount of cannabis helps him. He 
said: "My mum and wife were there when I woke up. I said, 'My legs 
are gone, aren't they?' and they just said, 'Yes'. "When I was blown 
up, I was blasted about 30ft into the air. It didn't even knock me 
out, I was conscious the whole time. It was amazingly horrible. "I 
had even said before I left camp that day that I had a bad feeling 
about this one. "I'd offered to take somebody's place on a foot 
patrol to give them a rest because it was my last day before my R&R. 
I wouldn't change what happened to me because maybe someone else 
wouldn't have survived. "There was some light at the end of the 
tunnel - the medic who saved my life came to meet me in hospital. He 
went to the cafe with my wife's wee sis, they exchanged numbers and 
now they are married. "I now have a wee nephew and another on the 
way. So had I not got blown up, my wee gem wouldn't be here and 
neither would his wee brother be on the way, so that makes it worth 
every bit of pain."

Cannabis campaign End Our Pain said: "Callum's case highlights the 
need for an urgent change in the law.

"Our estimates are that up to a million people in the UK rely on 
cannabis to help ease the symptoms of conditions like MS, Crohn's and 
extreme pain.

"At the moment, all these people face a terrible dilemma - either 
break the law or continue to suffer.

"They are patients, not criminals. It's totally unfair that access to 
medical cannabis is illegal here in the UK but legal in many European 
countries and US states where those in authority have listened to the 

Roy Lees, of drug rehab charity Teen Challenge, added: "I have real 
sympathy for people in the position that this man is in.

"The down side of cannabis is that almost every serious drug addict 
starts off on it, so it is a really dangerous drug in that respect.

"But when you have cases like this where it is clearly being used for 
pain relief, there is a good argument for giving some kind of 
controlled legal access to cannabis.

"It is not on that a guy who has gone to war for his country has to 
feel like a criminal."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom