A cannabis user from Earley who claims the drug has changed his life is calling for it to be made legal.
Clark French, 26, of Sutcliffe Avenue, was diagnosed Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in August 2010.
He was studying ancient history and archaeology at The University of Reading, but his symptoms rapidly became so bad that he had to use a walking stick and was forced to quit his degree.
Mr French said: “It meant I couldn’t walk, I would slur my speech, I would have bladder and bowel problems. It destroyed my life, I couldn’t do anything.
“There’s a treatment which is usually given to people who have had MS for over 10 years, I was offered that when I was diagnosed, which was pretty unheard of.”
Last year Mr French flew out to California, where medicinal use of the drug is legal, and underwent a cannabis-based treatment.
He said: “I got a doctors’ appointment and access to medical cannabis. I used cannabis oil and I’ve not used my walking stick since. It’s drastically increased my quality of life.
“For the first week I just slept a lot and after that I was with some friends and I was climbing up a cliff. I was walking up a really beautiful, special place that I wouldn’t have been able to do.
“I was like, ‘wow, this is instantly changing how I’m feeling, my pain levels and movement’. I think most people wouldn’t know I’ve got MS unless I’ve told them.”
Using the oil enabled Mr French to return to university to complete his degree. He is now campaigning for cannabis to be made legal and founded the Berkshire Cannabis Community activist group.
He said: “By doing that [using the drug] I’m putting myself at risk, but given my health or the law, I’m choosing my health.
“For me personally, I have been able to come off a lot of different prescription medication by using cannabis and I have a much better quality of life by consuming it.
“What the doctor will give me for pain is one molecular link away from heroin, but I’m not allowed to use a plant that’s safe.
“It needs to be acknowledged and, as far as Berkshire Cannabis Community go, we had our third meeting last week and it went really well. Everyone wants to get involved and change the law. We’re doing a thing at the moment where we’re trying to speak to all the Berkshire MPs.
“I’m not saying everyone should be using cannabis and that cannabis doesn’t have any harm, the thing is people shouldn’t be put in prison. That just puts it underground and puts it in the hands of criminals who make loads of money from it.”
Mr French will share his views when he appears on Channel 4’s 4Thought later today.
By Laura McCardle