A young Goulburn woman battling an incurable illness has thrown her support behind a push to legalise medicinal marijuana, saying the move would drastically improve the lives of people like her and the terminally ill.
The 24-year-old, who did not want to be identified, suffers from the autoimmune disease lupus and says she smokes marijuana on an almost daily basis to help her cope with her crippling symptoms.
The woman says her symptoms can be painful and debilitating and include severe joint and muscle pain, hair loss, brain fog, constant nausea and chronic fatigue.
Even though taking the illegal drug is fraught with danger, the young woman said it is a risk she's prepared to take.
"I would rather that than not be able to get out of bed or not be able to eat," she said. "I can lose 10 kilos in three days because you don't realise you're not eating, you just lie in bed sick and just crying to feel better."
Lupus occurs when auto-antibodies mistakenly attack a body's healthy tissue, such as joints, skin, the lining of the heart, lungs, blood and kidneys.
The young woman - who has taken a raft of medications and is currently on a chemotherapy drug once a week - says the disease has turned her life upside down.
She has been unemployed for a year and says the illness has forced her to give up full-time employment.
"I had plans. I was working full time and studying part time. Because of the stress, you get sicker - I struggled. I can't work full time. Everything's screwed," she said. "You can't live the life you want to."
The young woman said she had struggled to find out what was wrong with her for many years and doctors eventually diagnosed her with lupus last year.
"I've been sick for years but not realising why, my fingertips and toes going numb, I bruise a lot and easily, I've always had joint pains," she said.
For the woman, smoking marijuana is not about getting "stoned", but rather it is one of the few things she can take to help ease the pain which constantly gnaws at her body.
"I don't want to smoke it - I don't enjoy it but when you're very sick and you can't eat or you can't sleep ... It relaxes you and it helps with the pain," she said.
There appears to be growing public support for legalising medical marijuana with more than 187,000 people signing an online petition to decriminalise the use of medicinal cannabis for people with terminal cancer.
It was started by Tamworth mother Lucy Haslam, whose 24-year-old son Dan has terminal cancer and uses cannabis to manage his nausea, vomiting and poor appetite. He also uses cannabis oil in a bid to halt the progression of his disease, the online petition says.
The woman from Goulburn believes medicinal marijuana should be legalised for the chronically and terminally ill and for research purposes.
"(Marijuana) helps me to have a life that's as normal as it's going to get," she said.
"If it was legal, I wouldn't have to smoke it - I would be able to go and get the oil and I'd be able to take it properly and I think it would work better. I've seen so much research."