A FORMER teacher has launched a campaign to legalise cannabis for medicinal use as he tackles his own health issues.

"Accidental campaign founder" Phil Monk, 39, from Purton, has seen a rapid influx of around 1,400 supporters on his Facebook page called We the Undersigned Have a Sovereign Right to Cannabis.

He will try to gather support for the campaign by canvassing the streets of Swindon, arguing for its medicinal uses and the right of users to self-medicate.

Mr Monk said: “The objective is to achieve freedom and equality for all cannabis consumers equal to that of drug consumers of alcohol and tobacco. The campaign has blown up in three weeks. It was never in my mind to lead this.”

Suffering from a range of physical and mental health conditions, including chronic myofascial pain and depression, he claimed the drug had helped him deal with pain throughout his life. He said: “It allows me to function. It breaks the shackles of pain so I can think clearly. We’re asking people if they want to be free to make their own choices. I don’t think a politician should dictate a person’s own health practices."

The campaign aims to raise either a legal challenge or a judicial review against the government, as well as overturn its policy of criminalising users.

As a former literacy and numeracy teacher, Mr Monk expressed a desire to return to school “to teach kids to love books.” But due to his health he said he might struggle to do so without access to the drug.

Aware of the potential backlash, he said: “The drug doesn’t actually affect my head in terms of giving me a high or a buzz, it just helps to clear my head and enables me to function.”

Cannabis is a Class B drug, the possession of which can carry a five-year prison sentence, or a 14-year sentence for those guilty of supply and production.

According to the NHS UK website, “cannabis can make you feel relaxed and happy, but sometimes makes people feel lethargic, very anxious and paranoid, and even psychotic. Cannabis has been linked to mental health problems such as schizophrenia and, when smoked, to lung diseases including asthma.”