A MULTIPLE Sclerosis sufferer who has used cannabis illegally to ease her pain says she is delighted she will soon be able to get the drug on prescription.

Former nurse Pauline Taylor, 53, of Durham City, who has bought the drug from dealers to smoke has been campaigning for the drug to be made available legally for medical use.

She has also used specially-made cannabis chocolate.

Now the Home Office has agreed to allow Sativex, a cannabis-based spray that is manufactured in this country but is currently not licensed for use here, to be imported from Canada where it has been on sale since late June.

It will be available provided doctors agree to prescribe it even though it has still not been officially licensed.

"I'm so excited about it,'' said Mrs Taylor.

"It will make an enormous difference to me. I will be able to have a decent dose of cannabis to help my pain and the spasms I have.

"I will ring my doctor to make an appointment. I will be asking for it as soon as I can get there.''

Mrs Taylor said when she smoked the drug she found that strong "skunk'' cannabis was best for alleviating her pain without getting "high'' but maintaining supplies was difficult - her chocolate cannabis supplier was arrested by the police.

"Cannabis doesn't just get rid of pain. I get spasms in my bladder, bowels and muscles and sometime I can't move my leg.

"It is the cannabis that relaxes it and makes it function normally. It is about getting the dose right.''

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency refused to give Sativex a full licence last year until more clinical data was available. Manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals said as the spray remained a controlled drug, doctors would have to obtain a licence to prescribe it to named patients.

It would carry out further trials and was hoping to win permission next year to market the drug in this country.

Helen Yates, managing executive of the charity Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre, said: "It is a positive move for people who are forced to step the wrong side of the law and purchase substandard substances."

She added that she thought that the drug could help people with other conditions such as glaucoma - extreme high pressure in the eyes - and rheumatoid arthritis and help people undergoing chemotherapy ease some of the side effects.

People can get more information from the charity's website www.msrc.co.uk and its helpline 0800 783 0518