In November 2019, months before the pandemic struck, Irish chronic pain patient Alicia Maher decided she'd had enough of getting cannabis off the street in order to treat the chronic pain she'd endured for many years.
She decided to move to Alicante in Spain, where she could access cannabis semi-legally from the cannabis clubs there.
However, now Alicia wants to come home to her friends and family. Only if she does, if she brings her medicine back into the country she risks getting arrested.
Alicia Maher's story is one that shows in all its horror the intransigence of governments around the world in relation to medical cannabis, in particular when it comes to chronic pain.
In Ireland, consultants are generally resistant to prescribing medicinal cannabis at all. However, for conditions such as intractable epilepsy, MS and chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting, medical cannabis prescriptions are paid for by the state.
Unfortunately at the moment, regulators have found insufficient evidence for the efficacy of medicinal cannabis in chronic pain meaning patients have to fund the treatment themselves.
In Alicia's case, despite being one of the lucky few to have found a willing pain consultant, her prescription would cost more than the money she receives every month in disability benefits, making in an unsustainable option.
So for the time being, in order to be able to afford to receive the medicine she needs, she must continue living as a medical cannabis refugee in Spain