A former Probation Service worker left suicidal after her home was flooded by Storm Desmond says that using cannabis oil saved her life.

For 15 years, Nic Hewitt, 31, struggled with the form of depression known as bipolar disorder, forcing her to depend on antidepressant drugs which left her exhausted and emotionally numb.

Her life was thrown into deeper crisis by the flooding of December, 2015.

It left her and her fiance Chris Braithwaite, 25, homeless.

But Nic says their lives have been transformed by using cannabis oil containing the permitted amount of a substance called cannabidiol (CBD), which has been legally available since 2016.

She and her fiance, along with a friend, have now launched their own company in Carlisle, supplying cannabis oil, creams and vapes.

Nic told her story as Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced a review of the medicinal use of cannabis - a move prompted by the plight of children whose parents say they desperately need a medicinal form of the drug to treat their severe epilepsy.

She spoke also as a Cumbrian drug charity revealed that it has worked with children whose parents have supplied their children with illegal street cannabis.

Nic, who has also worked as a youth worker, said she has never used illegal cannabis, which she agrees can be immensely harmful.

But she is emphatic in her support for cannabis oil containing CBD.

"Under UK law, CBD is not recognised as a medicine, so we can't legally say it is a medicine.

"Our oil contains CBD, but not THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis that is illegal. So we sell it as a food substance.

"But we can say is what our customers use it for.

"I personally use it for my bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 15, and borderline personality disorder a year later.

"I took antidepressants and anti-epileptic medication to stop the cycle of bipolar.

"But I found that the antidepressants allowed me to function, but they left me feeling emotionally numb. When Storm Desmond hit, it felt like the end.

"Our home in Peter Street was flooded, and we had to be rescued by lifeboat. We were homeless for six months, living from hotel to hotel. I was on the edge - suicidal.

"Then I decided to try cannabis oil.

"It saved me life.

"The change was gradual at first but I felt that a weight had lifted from my shoulders. I was able to concentrate, and my sleep pattern normalised.

"I found I was getting up and feeling refreshed."

Nic - now living with Chris in Morton, Carlisle - said she wanted to start selling the cannabis oil products to both earn a living and to share the benefits she is now feeling.

"We opened for business on Monday, June 11," she said.

"We thought we had enough stock for a month, but sold it all in a week, though we've just had another delivery."

Nic welcomed the revived public debate about medicinal cannabis, saying she supports regulated use for medicinal purposes.

Helen Davies, from Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) also welcomed the debate, but she said it was important for people to distinguish between the potentially harmful street cannabis and legal products such as cannabis oil containing only CBD.

"If they get cannabis illegally," she said, "people can not know what they're getting.

"It is a valuable plant, and there are some amazing things we could do if we can harness its potential.

"But people don't know its strength if they get it illegally. They're putting themselves at risk - legally because it is an illegal drug; and physically.

"Some particularly strong strains can make mental health problems worse.

"We have worked with young people who say they're using cannabis more than alcohol. Some are getting it from their parents or grandparents."

Nic worked for the Probation Service for a year but was working at Carlisle Youth Zone as a youth worker at the time of Storm Desmond.

Cannabis Oil Factfile

* There are two forms of cannabis oil - one containing only CBD (cannabidiol) but not Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and another containing both substances.

* TCH is the psychoactive, or mind-altering ingredient of the illegal drug.

* The CBD-only oil is legal in the UK - provided it contains under the permitted amount of this substance. Nic Hewitt is selling this legal form of the oil.

* Debate over the use of cannabis oil has ignited following the high-profile case of severely epileptic 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who had his supply confiscated by the Home Office before it was returned.

* His mother feared he could die without the oil, which halted his seizures.

* The Government has now issued a special 20 day licence allowing Billy to use the currently banned form of cannabis oil.

* In other countries, cannabis oil with both CBD and THC is available for medicinal use.

Sajid Javid this week launched a review of whether this should be allowed in the UK.