Medical cannabis may help ease the pain of Bega Valley residents, but getting legal access can prove difficult.
Australians can currently use the medication via a doctor, otherwise called an Authorised Prescriber, or through the convoluted Special Access Scheme B process.
Merimbula resident Amanda Dalziel suffers from non-epileptic seizures, and feels she may benefit from switching from stronger pharmaceuticals to cannabis.
“It feels like pins and needles times a million,” Ms Dalziel said, describing her pain.
“I would try anything, because I just want it to stop.”
The 35-year-old had surgery in 2011 to remove a benign arteriovenous malformation after after it was discovered during an MRI scan.
“My dad went to a neurosurgeon to show him the scans, and he thought he would take it out to see what would happen.”
While the seizures eased somewhat, she was still in immense pain after each, forcing Ms Dalziel to request the benzodiazepine Valium to help further prevent seizures.
A former computer programmer, Ms Dalziel designs websites and says she is unable to write code for her work while on Valium.
“If the medical marijuana is better than Valium, then hell yeah I’d like to try it,” she said.
“Although I’m not diagnosed with anything, I’m in the too hard basket.”
Without a proper diagnosis Ms Dalziel remained unsure if she qualifies to trial the medicine, and said some doctors feel the paperwork involved can be time consuming.
Country Women’s Association Far South Coast group president Mary Williams said while she wouldn’t comment on individual cases, the organisation fully supports legislation to grow, manufacture and distribute cannabis for medical purposes.
“We are very much at the forefront of what is happening,” the Cobargo resident said.
While domestic cultivation was legalised in 2016, patients have reportedly had difficulties accessing enough of the medication.
Last month Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt established the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis to provide expert advice to politicians and created a new scheme to quicken the importation of an interim supply.
Meanwhile, ACT lawyers have raised concerns current drug-driving laws do not exempt medical marijuana users, and do not account for level of impairment.
Local magistrate Doug Dick said in May last year while dealing with drug-driving charges in Eden Local Court “a medicinal trial can’t come soon enough”.
One offender, on a disability pension claimed he was in pain 24 hours a day due to a spinal condition, and another claimed his doctor had suggested he try cannabis to control his pain after back surgery.
In a 2015 poll, almost 98 per cent of Bega District News respondents supported legalising the use of medical cannabis across Australia.