Cannabis ban a pain as Letitia faces terminal illness
A COFFEE Camp woman battling chronic kidney failure hopes she will be one of the first in Australia to join the State Government's Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme.
Letitia Lee, 45, who has registered for admission and been declared terminally ill by her doctor, applauded the scheme's better-late-than-never introduction.
"The thing about the scheme is it takes the fear out of buying cannabis as medication. It helps with a positive mindset," she said.
"When you're terminal you've got fear already, you're anxious, and I'm already trying to heal myself of an incurable disease.
"To have the piece of paper makes me feel like I'm not a criminal.
"This medicine improves my life, it really does. I've tried all the different ones the doctors prescribed and marijuana really works, with no real side effects compared to pills.
"People who need this should get their paperwork, get it done and make a stand."
However, she was critical of some aspects of the scheme, including oversights regarding cannabis edibles for medical treatment and difficulty obtaining the drug, due to cost, availability and her limited mobility.
Ms Lee said using cannabis, and eating it in particular, reduced nausea brought on by large amounts of prescribed medication she must ingest daily due to end-stage polycystic kidney disease.
Cannabis also goes some way to reduce the pain Ms Lee suffers, allowing her to stop using an opioid painkiller with a myriad of well-documented negative side effects.
Ms Lee said she was tired of being treated like a criminal for seeking out a natural substance which helped her cope with a debilitating condition - one which rarely allowed her to leave her home.
Formerly a sales and marketing consultant, she was convicted of cannabis possession last year while buying the drug in Nimbin for medical use.
"I was buying cookies in town (Nimbin) from a lady and I was dobbed into police," she said.
"I was done with cookies. I went to court and was given a Section 10 good behaviour bond (no conviction)."
Ms Lee said being dragged through the legal system was the last thing she needed while battling kidney failure.
"We need to stop clogging up the court with stupid cases like this," she said.
Despite her condition, and her diagnosis, Ms Lee was optimistic she would recover and has not given up the fight.
Ms Lee added she was fortunate to have a carer who could drive if she was under the influence of cannabis.
The State Government has previously warned cannabis could be detected by drug tests up to a month after use.
Ms Lee has opted out of a kidney transplant and dialysis because of quality of life concerns and has been working with doctors who have adopted traditional and alternative methods of treating her illness.
Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme
Provides NSW Police with discretion guidelines
Provides protection for up to three carers
Covers up to 15g of cannabis leaf, 1g of oil and 2.5g of resin
Does not cover edible cannabis, such as cookies
A medical practitioner must certify terminal illness
For more information, including eligibility and caveats, visit http://www.nsw.gov.au/tics