In 2013, Barbadian Marvin King arrived at his job as an Assistant Psychologist at a mental health hospital in the England. What started out to be a normal day, in turn began a journey for Marvin that he could not have ever predicted.
“I was struck on the head with an object thrown by a patient. With that, I suffered a mild concussion which led to experiencing severe headaches, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that was later diagnosed and treated,” he explained.
While his PTSD was treated, Marvin still experienced severe pain and insomnia as a result of the blow to his head. His prescribed medications offered temporary relief but eventually stopped working, with some of those medications presenting numerous side effects. This would lead Marvin to reconsider taking the prescriptions altogether.
In confiding with a friend about his situation, he was encouraged to investigate the use of medicinal cannabis as a reliever. This effort led Marvin on a six-month journey from his home in Hackney, London to Vancouver, Canada, a territory where medicinal cannabis is legal. Marvin was quickly introduced to tinctures and oils, and within two days of taking the various options, he noticed that his symptoms where gone.
“Not only had my pain disappeared, but I was now able to sleep easily without any effort, once I had ingested my nightly dose of a selection of medicinal cannabis sleep inducing potions,” he said.
When Marvin returned to London in 2014, he could not legally use medicinal cannabis, so he applied to the British Home Office to continue his practice developed in Canada. Even though there was a company in England developing medicinal cannabis products, the Home Office stated that they did not know of any benefits and therefore denied him a license. Marvin was struck with further distress that year as he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), after experiencing cognitive motor control and eyesight issues.
While the MS diagnosis was disappointing, in turn it helped Marvin to find an advocate in his specialist nurse who supported his effort to legally obtain and used medicinal cannabis.
“My nurse informed the local Police department of my illness and reasons for wanting to grow my own medicinal cannabis. Eventually, I was permitted to grow once I did not sell or give it to anyone else,” he said.
Marvin, who by this time had become a Clinical Services Director at a challenging behaviour and drug & alcohol addiction unit, more than understood the responsibility and privilege placed with him to grow and use medicinal cannabis.
He laments however that, “It is still not possible to obtain cannabis medications in the United Kingdom, as it was only approved as a medicine on November 1st, 2018. The dispensaries and General Practitioners are yet to be trained in the ways of using cannabis as a medicine protocol”.
Marvin explained that there is one medicinal cannabis product available on prescription, but only if it was determined that all other medications are not managing your symptoms effectively.
Marvin’s use of the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes includes consuming the raw, young flowers and drying the leaves to use as a tea. He has even made medical tinctures, oils and joint rubs for his hands and feet, relieving the pain that prevented him from staying active in the gym and garden.
However, his use and home production has informed travel decisions due to restriction of use and access. With the impending introduction of a medicinal cannabis industry to Barbados, Marvin is now encouraged to return to Barbados and his family, where he can continue his treatment and pain- free living.