A disabled ex-Army corporal says his life has been turned around by legally prescribed cannabis.
Andy McIntosh, 48, has been using the drug for chronic pain relief since November.
But the ex-soldier, from Strathaven in Lanarkshire, has faced huge battles with health chiefs to get cannabis prescribed.
And he has urged the Scottish Government to open up access to the drug, claiming it could be a lifeline for hundreds of people living with chronic pain.
Father-of-two Andy said: “I’ve been in excruciating pain for years and took large doses of both fast and slow-acting morphine as well as ketamine. But these didn’t really help and led to other conditions, such as my lung collapsing.
“When I first asked about cannabis, I was knocked back. It was only prescribed after I rattled a lot of cages.
“Since starting taking cannabis, the pain is under control a lot more.”
He added: “There are hundreds of people living in complete misery with chronic pain and they don’t have to. Something needs to be done to make cannabis more available.”
Andy became disabled in 2008 following corrective surgery four years after leaving the Cheshire Regiment.
He was diagnosed with a very rare vascular disorder that severely effects his legs.
But he refused to accept he would need to spend the rest of his life using a mobility scooter and in 2014 was pencilled in to have a life-changing operation in London.
However, four days before surgery, he had a minor procedure carried out and surgeons said if they operated as planned, he wouldn’t survive.
Since then, he has lived with excruciating, chronic pain in his lower limbs.
But since he started taking cannabis, via a liquid he sprays under his tongue, his quality of life has started to improve.
He said: “The pain was like someone stabbing knives into my legs all day long. It was nearly impossible to live with.
“Now, thanks to the cannabis spray, things are very different.
“I’m off morphine and coming to the end of my time on ketamine. It has been a life-changer for me and my family.”
Andy was in the Army for nearly 15 years, serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq. Since leaving in 2004, he has raised thousands for veterans’ charities and did a scooter challenge from John O’ Groats to Land’s End.
He added: “I had to battle to be prescribed cannabis. Others who maybe aren’t as pushy as me are probably suffering in silence. It’s important we try to get the drug to those people who need it most. No one in a modern society should be forced to live in pain.”