A mum from Douglas has told how a move to legalise medicinal cannabis in the Isle of Man has ‘completely changed her life’.

Care worker Chloe Hughes, 28, had suffered from severe sciatica after giving birth to her second child.

Doctors had prescribed her with painkillers in a bid to treat the condition which she said ‘made the pain even worse’.

After doing some research, Chloe initially decided to self-medicate using cannabis bought from the black market.

However, since medical cannabis was legalised in the island towards the end of 2022, she hasn’t had to purchase the drug illegally.

Speaking about her experience, Chloe said: ‘The doctors kept telling me that it was just sciatica and that it would go away on its own, but it never did. It was later diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis and the pain was severe in the spine to hip area.

‘I was on these prescribed painkillers for two years and people would tell me that I looked “off my face”, which made me really self-conscious. I also couldn’t sleep and it had other effects on my health such as problems with my digestive system.

‘I wasn’t made aware of these side effects, which I didn’t like. There was times where I struggled to get out of bed in the morning.

‘Being a young mother of two children, it really wasn’t working for me and I had to do something about it.’

Chloe then self-medicated with cannabis from the black market for roughly 12 to 14 months before medical cannabis was legalised.

She said: ‘It was illegal, but it made a difference. I knew, obviously, that it would be better for me to have it medicinally, and so as soon as it was legalised I switched to that straight away.’

In November 2022, Isle of Man Government officials met with UK Home offices staff to discuss the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, and a month later a 12-month trial began to test its effectiveness.

However, complications regarding how cannabis related products would be couriered to the island arose and the Minister for Health and Social Care at the time, Rob Callister MHK, said: ‘We wanted to avoid issuing an importation and exportation licence for every prescription. The meeting generated a pragmatic solution. The department will provide information regarding cannabis-based substances which will be validated by the UK Home Office to enable importation.

‘The department is working collaboratively with UK Home Office colleagues to implement the licence and reporting processes in the coming weeks.

‘This is a priority. We made a commitment to commence the service and understand the frustration caused to members of the public by the delay.’

GrowLab Organics Ltd (GLO) was the first regulatory approved cannabis company on the Isle of Man to cultivate, process, manufacture, import and export legal cannabis products.

However, Chloe has been receiving her medicinal cannabis from ‘Integro’ - a London-based supplier.

She said: ‘I just did a little bit of research of who provided over here, and I only found two. The first one I went with was originally “Medica”, but there was a lot of that legal legislation that restricted them.

‘I booked my initial consultation with them, and then on the day of the consultation, the government basically said that they had ceased trading, which was really disappointing. So I had to go through Integro in the end.

‘They had a look at my medical records to see if I was eligible, and then I booked my consultation which was only £50. I spoke face to face with a doctor on a video call for half an hour. We went through all my medical notes and he asked me about my children and my life, how I am day to day.

‘He ended up prescribing me for one in the morning and one at night. Just two a day, but it makes such a difference. If I stopped taking it, I’d be back to exactly where I was before. I’d be depressed and I don’t think I’d be able to work.

‘My condition is degenerative, so it’s not going to get better. I will have to take the medical cannabis for the foreseeable future.’

Chloe said she was aware that there were discussions regarding the legalisation of medical cannabis in the island while she was self-medicating, and that she joined Facebook groups which looked to campaign for it to happen. Speaking about the issue of importation fees, she said: ‘At the moment I’m talking to people in the industry to see if it could be cheaper for us on the island, while also enquiring about a wider range of medicinal products being made available.

‘It would be great if it was a bit easier for people on the island to access these products.’