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Health / Kayleigh receives national recognition for campaigning on medicinal cannabis

The 28-year-old is one of 40 UK women highlighted by Cannabis Health magazine

A MOTHER of five from Lerwick who credits medicinal cannabis for transforming her life after struggling with health conditions for years has been highlighted as one of 40 women who have “gone above and beyond to make change in the field”.

Kayleigh and Matthew Ross.
Kayleigh and Matthew Ross.

Twenty eight year old Kayleigh Ross, whose children are all aged between 5 and 11, was among those whose achievements were highlighted by specialist news site Cannabis Health on the back of International Women’s Day.

Kayleigh has been using cannabis for around five years to treat conditions including functional neurological disorder (FND), fibromyalgia and C-PTSD. Her partner, Matthew Ross, also uses cannabis to treat his MS.

Cannabis Health featured her as one of those who had made a major contribution to reducing the stigma associated with using medicinal cannabis. Women are statistically much less likely than men to seek out and be prescribed the substance.

Kayleigh told Shetland News she had been on “high concoctions” of opioids and other medications – 32 a day – prior to using medical cannabis. She found it particularly difficult to overcome the stigma associated with using the plant and being a parent.

“It has changed my life hugely,” she said. “I have been able to be the best mum I can possibly be to my children. I’m not saying pharmaceuticals are all bad but curious why cannabis is always last resort.”

She was charged for possessing 13g of the substance in 2017 prior to legislative changes that made it lawful for specialist doctors to prescribe the substance.

But campaigners say uptake on the NHS has been “painfully slow” and costs and conditions associated with obtaining medical cannabis remain prohibitive for many people.

Kayleigh runs a social media page, Medical Cannabis Shetland and Scotland, and offers support to other patients.

She was the first patient in Scotland to be enrolled in Project Twenty21 and is described by Cannabis Health as an “inspirational vocal advocate”.

Her story has featured in numerous newspapers and magazines. She has discussed the subject on BBC radio and also appeared as a panellist at the Global Cannabis Institute Europe in 2020.

The medicinal cannabis that has transformed Kayleigh’s health and wellbeing.

She says it is frustrating that cannabis is not available on the NHS despite having been legalised and says Shetland is “very far behind” with a default position of “seeing cannabis as a bad thing and treating patients like criminals”.

Kayleigh wants to seek fair access for all patients “without having to go private or break the law”. Medicinal cannabis is primarily accessed through specialist private clinics and it is “a monthly bill we have to pay to keep well, but with the rising cost of living it makes it hard”.

“Some GPs are still very resistant, especially mental health, but there are doctors at the cannabis clinics who specialise in mental health and realise how much it can help,” she says.

“Patients on prescriptions come to me for help to communicate things to pharmacy or chasing medication orders. The medical cannabis clinics is who I use and have for two years. It is all online so I don’t have to travel, but we need this on the NHS to prevent bankrupting families so they can be well.

“Cannabis is a plant and isn’t the devil’s lettuce like some may think. I get [that] some may have had bad experiences with it in the past, but these products from the Dispensary Green pharmacy or any of the pharmacies are controlled, tested, consistent products unlike [the] black market and a fraction of the price compare[d] to the illicit market in Shetland.”