Sister-in-law of Home Office Minister who banned cannabis oil confesses: I have used it too, so make it legal

Published by The Mail on Sunday (17th June, 2018)

The sister-in-law of Nick Hurd, the Home Office Minister who last week barred desperate mother Charlotte Caldwell from bringing in cannabis medicine for her epileptic child, has admitted using similar products to treat chronic pain.

In what will be a huge embarrassment for the Government, Sara Hurd has revealed how she bought cannabis oil online to treat ‘terrible’ nerve pain – despite knowing it was illegal.

After finding that it helped her, Mrs Hurd, 48, who is married to the Minister’s younger brother Alexander, become a campaigner for the legalisation of medical marijuana.

She even attended a ‘Cannabis Tea Party’ protest outside Parliament last year, when demonstrators drank tea and ate cakes reportedly dosed with cannabis extracts.

Her admissions come days after Mr Hurd refused to let Ms Caldwell openly bring a supply of cannabis oil into the country to treat her 12-year-old son Billy – before Home Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday over-ruled him.

Mrs Hurd started using cannabis oil after an operation on a nerve cyst three years ago left her with acute pain by her shoulder.

She said: ‘I know it is technically illegal but I could not believe anyone would arrest me for taking pain relief medicine when there are so many more important things for the authorities to focus on.

‘I have no doubt cannabis should be properly legalised for medicinal purposes. I simply do not understand how we have got to this place whereby we can use opioids and other illegal drugs in medicine but not cannabis.’

She said she only resorted to cannabis oil after exploring a huge range of other options to address the debilitating pain.

‘It was like being stabbed every five seconds,’ said the mother-of-three from South London. ‘It affected everything in my life. I was depressed, needed help with the kids and spent hours lying on the sofa in pain.’

One of her biggest problems was the steady drill of agonising pain that stopped her from sleeping at night. ‘I slept with a freezer beside my bed filled with ice packs,’ she recalled.

She saw more than 50 doctors in an attempt to tackle the crippling pain and turned to scores of treatments and therapies. ‘I tried everything but nothing worked,’ she said.

Eventually, friends suggested trying cannabis, which she researched online. Her doctor offered to put her in contact with another patient using the drug, while she even thought about travelling to Canada to obtain a prescription – just as Billy’s mother Ms Caldwell did.

However, she finally found it online from a British supplier. She used a version of cannabis oil, taken orally, containing mostly cannabidiol (CBD) and two per cent tetrahydrocannibinol (THC).

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. THC is the main psychoactive compound in the drug, which makes cannabis a controlled substance under UK law.

Cannabis oils and creams are legal if they contain less than 0.3% THC, but not if they contain more than that – despite growing evidence of therapeutic effects in a number of conditions determined by differing ratios.

Mrs Hurd – who works as a part-time headhunter – said of the oil she took: ‘It did not stop my pain but ensured I could get to sleep and this enabled me to function again.

‘It was a relief after I’d tried so many different things. It also calmed me and helped lift my mood a little.

‘The key with cannabis oil is I didn’t feel horrendous all day, as I did when I took sleeping pills, and I didn’t feel dreadful side effects like I did with all the other medicines I tried.’

She took it with her on a trip to the United States to help her sleep – a decision she admitted had made her nervous. But she argued its legality was ‘of little consequence’ when trying to keep going for the sake of her family.

Ironically, the same product was tested on Billy Caldwell when doctors in Los Angeles first began trialling cannabis treatments on him, before they found a more effective medication for his type of intractable epilepsy. The product prescribed for him in Canada also has a 50-to-1 ratio of CBD to THC.

Mrs Hurd stopped using the product after her pain began to subside earlier this year but her experiences led her to campaign for reform of the law, promoting the cause on social media and among friends.

‘Everyone in my world at work and in my family – at least on my side – knew that I was taking this,’ she said. My pain management doctors told me some of their patients even travel to Amsterdam to obtain cannabis oils.’

She declined to say if she had discussed the issue with Nick Hurd. ‘So many other medicines contain illegal drugs that the ban on these treatments makes no sense,’ she added.

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