A mother of five is thought to have become the first person in Scotland to be prescribed cannabis legally.
Kayleigh Compston, 26, has been prescribed the drug as part of a new European study. She says it allows her to play with her children and take a shower, after years of chronic pain.
Compston suffers from health conditions that cause her to experience paralysis and muscle spasms. Previously, she was routinely being prescribed morphine, which knocked her out and left her bedridden.
But she said she found cannabis, bought illegally, helped alleviate the symptoms of her functional neurological disorder (FND) and fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
However, self-medicating illegally came with drawbacks and meant Compston experienced constant anxiety over getting caught.
So last year Compston and her partner Matthew Ross, 25, who has multiple sclerosis, both signed up for a pioneering drug study led by Dr David Nutt.
Nutt is a former senior government drugs adviser but was sacked in 2009 after claiming ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol. He is now chair of Drug Science, an independent science-led drugs charity.
The Project 21 study, which involves 20,000 participants, will be Europe’s first and biggest national medical cannabis registry.
Compston was pregnant with her second child when she began to suffer from fibromyalgia, which affects her pelvis and makes her unable to walk far due to chronic pain.
Around three years ago, she also began to experience FND symptoms, which appear to be caused by problems in the nervous system but are not caused by a physical neurological disease.
To help alleviate her symptoms, the mum turned to street dealers to supply cannabis, but found the drug varied in quality and came with a risk of not knowing what it may have been treated with.
Compston, who is one of the first people in the UK to take part in the study, says receiving the drugs legally via the study has been life-changing.
“I used cannabis for four years self-medicating, but I was also being prescribed morphine, which affected my parenting,” she explains.
“Morphine is like heroin in a tablet, it knocks you out.”
Compston’s cannabis is now dispensed by a licensed pharmacist who sends it in the post. It costs her £600 a month for 120g. Her partner, who has a private prescription, spends £700 for the 60g, as a script has not yet been issued for the study.
She believes that vaporising cannabis has made her a better mum to her children: Tyler, 9, Tegan, 8, Tommy-Lee, 7, Teejay, 5, and Tianna, 4.
For the first time in years Compston is well enough to play with her kids and to have a shower rather than a bath, speeding up her morning routine.
“It has improved my quality of life and my children’s, I couldn’t be the mum that I am without it,” she says.
“It's only been the past year that I’ve been able to take my kids for a walk,” she continues, adding that she still experiences pain the next day.
“It has made a big difference to being able to play with my kids,” she says.
“It has given me back my life.”
Compston has now set up a support group and hopes the study will be a breakthrough in terms of policy and changing attitudes.
Cannabis has been available on the NHS since 2018 but families can face difficulty in accessing it.
“Now, with the cannabis I am prescribed being legal, I can speak out,” Compston says.
“I’m not a junkie, it's not a gateway drug. It has helped so many people and there is nothing illegal about what I'm doing.
“It needs more education.”
Additional reporting by SWNS.