Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd
Pubdate: 23 Jan 1999
Section: Newsfeatures
Author: Joanna Bale

WHEN a friend showed Clare Hodges how to roll her first joint, it transformed her life. The former television producer had suffered from multiple sclerosis for nine years and was experiencing bladder spasms that made sleeping at night almost impossible.

Mrs Hodges, who has now been using cannabis for seven years, said: "I had been prescribed all sorts of drugs which did not work, when someone suggested I try cannabis.

"I had never used it before and it took me a while to find someone who could get hold of it. Eventually I discovered that one of my old work colleagues used it recreationally. She agreed to come round to my house and we smoked a joint.

"The effects were immediate. My whole body seemed to melt and all the discomfort, spasms and nausea disappeared."

Shortly afterwards Mrs Hodges and two other MS patients founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, to campaign for more research into the medical uses of cannabis. The group's first major breakthrough came in 1997 when the British Medical Association voted overwhelmingly at its annual meeting for cannabis products to be available on prescription.

Later that year ACT took a delegation of politicians and doctors, including Dr Guy, to see Paul Boateng, the junior Home Office Minister.

Four months later Dr Guy was granted his licence.