Kirsten in limbo with cannabis law
A North Kerry woman, an avid campaigner for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Ireland, has welcomed the new legislation signed last week, but has expressed her disappointment that her chronic pain conditions are not covered under the new programme.
Last Wednesday June 26, Health Minister Simon Harris signed legislation which will allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme on a pilot basis for five years.
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Speaking to The Kerryman last Friday, Kirsten Rigney, who suffers from severe Fibromylagia, chronic fatigue syndrome and hypermobility joint pain, said that first and foremost, she sees the legislation as a big step in the right direction for the country
"I think it's brilliant. I really do. It's great news and I'm so happy for everyone who's after getting it," she said.
Admittedly though, she said that she has been left "super upset" at the exclusion of her conditions.
"It's a five year pilot programme and so I don't know how long it's going to be before they decide to add chronic pain to the programme, if they ever do. I don't know if I'll have to wait the full five years or even longer, I just don't know," she said.
"I don't understand why we need to have this pilot programme. It's been piloted in Canada, it's been piloted in America, it's been piloted in Spain. It's been done in all these places and it's working so my question, is why do we need to be piloting it too," she continued.
Kirsten says that she now feels like she is in limbo as she waits to see how the pilot programme progresses over the next year or two.
In her bid to secure pain relief from her conditions, Kirsten has previously been forced to uproot from Kerry and live for a number of months in Amsterdam where the availability of cannabis there helped to transform her life, she says.
"To be standing here in another country and to actually be able to cycle a bike and walk outside for the first time in years, it's amazing," she said last year in July 2018 in an interview with The Kerryman.
Sadly though, she was not able to afford to live there indefinitely and moved back to Kerry in December of last year where her chronic pain continues to impact her day-to-day life. Currently, she says that she is taking opioid painkillers, and while she says that these help to reduce a small amount of the pain, she no longer wants to live the side-effects caused by these opioid.
"I am left feeling like a zombie. I am sleepy all the time and I feel like sometimes my brain isn't my own," she said.
Another drastic move that she and her family are considering is a move to Barcelona or somewhere else in Spain where she would once again have access to the cannabis she requires.
"It's something we are thinking about but again we're talking about uprooting the family to move which isn't an easy decision to make," she continued.