It’s the plant that has provided more fodder for comedians and entire film franchises than most, yet it’s the medicinal properties of cannabis that have many shouting its praise. After decades of demonisation it seems that Australia is finally ready to embrace the medicinal alternative, and it can’t happen soon enough.
WORDS: JAS RAWLINSON
For the thousands of Australians who suffer from chronic pain disorders and terminal medical conditions, severe pain is a horrible daily reality, driving many to develop depression and serious addictions to prescribed pain medication. For many, these legal alternatives neither improve their quality of life, nor heal the condition, and the endless popping of prescriptions can take a severe toll on both emotional and physical health.
It seems reasonable to think that the Government would welcome a natural alternative that’s been proven to relieve the suffering of terminally ill patients (while restoring their appetite, energy and – in some cases – even decreasing their tumours) yet to this day Australians still do not have legal access to medicinal cannabis.
While medicinal marijuana has dramatically improved the lives of the terminally ill, it’s not just cancer patients who are benefiting. From epilepsy seizures and medical conditions, to endometriosis, back pain and serious injuries, it’s amazing how many health conditions can be treated with just one plant. Unfortunately however, those who find relief with cannabis must also deal with the stress of knowing that in order to relieve their suffering, they must break the law.
Although many Australian’s have been put in this position for decades, it was in 2014 that the benefits of medicinal cannabis were finally thrust into the mainstream spotlight; with a young cancer patient and his family bringing the issue to public attention worldwide.
That young man was Dan Haslam, a 24-year-old man from Tamworth who had been fighting terminal bowel cancer for four years. After undergoing various surgeries, radiation and exhausting chemotherapy treatments, he was left weak and frail, with unrelenting nausea and suicidal thoughts (a side effect from the OxyContin and Endone prescribed to him). It wasn’t until Dan was introduced to medicinal cannabis by a family friend, that both he and his family discovered how different his life could be.
Where nothing else had previously worked, Dan was now suddenly able to eat and experience some relief from the constant nausea and vomiting. For a cancer patient, the ability to maintain weight is essential during their chemotherapy treatments, and prior to the use of cannabis, Dan had been losing 5kg every treatment cycle.