Callum Sutton was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was just 10 years old.
In the 15 years since his diagnosis, the condition, a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary vocal outbursts and physical tics, has taken a huge toll on his life.
But a chance encounter with cannabis oil while on holiday in Switzerland changed his life and now the 25-year-old from Shandon is joining a campaign to legalise the drug in the UK.
“It was the best thing I ever did in my life”, he said.
Callum said he was severely bullied throughout his teens after developing tics as a result of his condition.
“It was a just a bit of teasing at first,” he said. “But then it turned into something that was coming from people who I thought I was close to.”
The bullying became so bad he said he was pushed to the brink of suicide and dropped out of university because of his anxieties. Over the years he says he was issued with various medications on the NHS, but suffered side effects, including severe vomiting.
But in June, everything changed after a trip to Europe. After visiting Barcelona with his mum, he arranged to meet friends in Geneva. Having become aware of medical marijuana, he discovered that it is legal in Geneva. He found a dispensary and spoke to the staff, who recommended cannabis oil, and he says his symptoms were instantly relieved.
The transformation was so astonishing he threw away his NHS prescribed medication.
“It was scary,” he said. “But I was with friends who I trusted. I became a different person.”
Callum felt more able to speak to new people and go out to bars with his friends. On seeing a man doing a bungee jump, he uncharacteristically decided to book a jump himself. His parents have been blown away by how independent he has become and he’s even considering moving into his own place for the first time.
Callum said: “I would like to see trials. I would like to see research. I don’t want (cannabis) for recreational purposes. I’ve always been against drugs. I’m not saying it should be legalised tomorrow but there are a lot of unanswered questions. I’ve contacted my MP. I would love to meet some MPs and MSPs and speak to them about the benefits. I would even go to parliament and speak there which would be a massive step for me as I’ve never really been able to do public speaking before.”
Callum added: “It’s is not going to solve all our problems, but we need to take it seriously, and assess the potential benefits. I think the human race is getting smarter, and we’re realising it’s for more than just getting high.” Looking forward, Callum says he is “definitely considering” returning to Geneva if there aren’t considerable developments in UK policy soon. Earlier this month Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced a review of the official treatment of cannabis for medicinal use. The issue was thrust to the limelight after the mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who had cannabis oil to treat epilepsy which was confiscated at Heathrow, demanded a change in the law.