With her twinkling eyes in a face lined with wrinkles, 73-year-old Doris looks like a sweet old lady who would shudder at the idea of breaking the law.
However, unknown to most of her friends, family and neighbours, Doris (not her real name) is actually a criminal. She uses cannabis on a daily basis and always has a supply in her home.
Doris, 73, who lives in Goosnargh, has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for many years and says the crippling pain and swelling has been making her life a misery.
As well as suffering from joint pain and stiffness, Doris says the condition flares up regularly leading to severe pain which prevents her from living her life.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but medication and treatment can slow the progression of the condition.
But Doris says she has tried a multitude of medications over the years, but nothing brings her relief for any period of time.
However, three years ago, Doris discovered the healing powers of cannabis - and now keeps a regular stock of weed in her home to use whenever the pain gets too much.
As Doris abhors smoking, she uses cannabis in her food - and says it works wonders for her arthritic pain.
Doris, who has two children and six grandchildren, says it was actually a hospital specialist who first alerted her to the fact that cannabis could help her.
Doris, who is a widow, explains: “Over the years, I have been to many hospitals and seen a number of specialists to try and get help for my condition.
“But nothing seemed to work for any period of time and I had allergic reactions to some of the treatments so instead of feeling better, I felt worse.
“Then a few years ago, I was chatting to one of the specialists in a hospital and he said he shouldn’t be saying this to me as he could get into trouble, but that maybe I should try cannabis.
“He strongly advised me not to go and attempt to buy it off the streets myself or put myself into any danger.
“But he said that if I happened to know someone who could get hold of some cannabis for me, I might want to try it.
“He did say that it didn’t work for everyone, but he had spoken to a number of patients who had told him it helped them.”
Unsure of how to obtain cannabis, Doris approached the son of a neighbour who was horrified when she first asked him if he knew where she could get cannabis from.
Chuckling, Doris says: “I think he thought he was in trouble when I asked him if he used cannabis and he immediately said no and was quite defensive.
“But when I explained what the hospital specialist had said and how I wanted to try anything to stop the pain I was experiencing, he told me to leave it with him and he would see what he could do.
“A couple of days later, he knocked on my door and bought me a little pack of what just looked dried up herbs. I asked him how much I owed him and he was such a kind boy, he told me he didn’t want anything. He said I should see if it worked first, but I pushed a tenner into his hand.”
Doris told her neighbour’s son that she didn’t like smoking and had never touched a cigarette in her life so he suggested she try eating it to get the same effects.
Doris says: “Using it in food seemed a good compromise, so I thought that was the best thing to do.”
The first time Doris tried eating cannabis, she simply sprinkled it into a meat stew and ate it as normal.
She admits it took a few attempts before she discovered the correct dosage for her.
She recalls: “I think I put in too much the first couple of times as I felt very funny and light-headed.
“But the good thing was, it made the pain disappear and for the first time in years, I felt I could move my fingers and joints without them feeling stiff and painful.”
Doris has now found the correct amount of cannabis to work for her without making her feel “funny” and says her preferred food to use cannabis in is sandwiches.
She added: “It has changed my life and worked wonders on my arthritis. I can move a lot better and I’m not in constant pain.”
David Shakespeare, consultant in neurological rehabilitation medicine at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “The problem with street cannabis is that there is no control over its strength and what is in it.
“This makes it very difficult to do research on.
“I run a specialist spasticity clinic and was having patients coming to me saying that cannabis was helping their condition.
“I have approval to prescribe Sativex, a medical spray derived from cannabis, to certain patients with MS and refractory spasticity.
“In terms of street cannabis, the only experience I have had is patients coming to me reporting they are using it.”
“Some say it helps them, others say it doesn’t help or has side effects.”