The future of cannabis medicine in Australia

canadicannabmedCannabis legalisation is inevitable. Canada is about to legislate for recreational cannabis and so is California. Colorado has already legalised, and the sky has not fallen down. Crime rates have not gone up, people are not driving cars into trees, nor did anyone expect this, apart from a few die-hard fanatics. We have reached the tipping point.

Meanwhile, Australian governments have made no preparations for a legalised market and have developed no infrastructure for it. Instead, they are striving to give the industry to their discredited backers in Big Pharma and preparing to crack down on the illicit compassionate movement.

For the neo-Liberal ascendancy, regulation means privatisation, which means restricting the market via over-regulation and more reefer madness.

Both Queensland and Victoria have announced they will increase penalties for cannabis and Victoria plans to join Queensland in banning all information about growing cannabis and making cannabis medicines. They admit they can not arrest their way out of the problem, but they keep on trying.

The spread of cannabis medicine will be driven by the internet, which reports the developments in countries that have legalised medical cannabis, and by demographics. The Baby-Boomers were the first cannabis adaptors, and as  they age and face the diseases of mortality, they are more prepared to take up cannabis medicines.

Cannabis medicine will remain an illicit industry for a short while. There will be other Tony Bowers, but they will not be able arrest their way out of their predicament.

The Age of cannabis medicine is dawning.


A friend, who is a law lecturer, wrote to me asking where he could obtain medical cannabis. His partner’s lung cancer was getting worse: “She starts chemo today after six weeks on a drug called Getfitinib. Not very optimistic… “

As a journalist who has followed the medical cannabis story over many years, I have reported on lives transformed using simple herbal extracts from a plant vilified by police and politicians as a dangerous drug. So although it was breaking the law, I made inquiries. Cannabis has a well-known record in treating nausea and maintaining appetite during chemotherapy. Recently the US National Cancer Institute rated cannabis as the best treatment available for nausea suppression and appetite stimulation in chemotherapy.

A few weeks later my friend sent me a photo of a jar containing a green herbal substance in a similar coloured liquid.

Recently I checked to see how his partner’s illness was progressing. He reported the cannabis was helping greatly, allowing his partner to deal with the chemo-induced nausea far better and her tumour was reducing. Their crisis was far from over and she was due to start a second cycle of chemotherapy shortly. He informed me he had started making his own tincture.

Although the Queensland government claims to have legalised medical cannabis, only one person in Queensland has legal access to cannabis! However, the black market in medical cannabis is thriving. My friend informed me that he received contacts for over a dozen illegal medical cannabis providers.

When he spoke in West End, Dana Larsen rthat the triumph of cannabis regulation in Canada was a testament to the civil liberty campaign the Canadians engaged in. He praised Marc Emery, who opened a shop called HEMP BC, which sold bongs and seeds. Although Marc Emery eventually served four-and-a-half years in a US prison, his example was emulated by others, creating a movement that combined business, civil disobedience and activism together into a very effective and powerful combination.

Much the same has happened in Australia with the medicinal cannabis movement. A decade ago, an unassuming Aboriginal man named Tony Bower started making a cannabis tincture, called Mullaways medicinal cannabis tincture for sufferers of childhood epilepsy. The New South Wales police arrested him, stole his patients’ medicine, and put him in prison.

His patients made his case a nation-wide cause. The parents of profoundly suffering children told of their gratitude to him and defended the miraculous relief afforded by his medicine. Many individuals were inspired to emulate him.

The recreational cannabis black market is Australia’s most valuable agricultural crop with tens-of-thousands of growers, with a street-value of several billion dollars. This large pre-existing underground industry provided the expertise and entrepreneurial drive that an agile, innovative and illicit industry needed.

Thanks to their efforts, knowledge of the benefit of medical cannabis is so wide-spread that even law lecturers are turning to black market cannabis and are learning to make their own cannabis medicines! Very few people would be shocked by my friend’s actions: Would any compassionate person watch their partner die and not do everything in their power to help?

Yet this is precisely what Australian politicians, police and health authorities demand. These compassion-devoid monsters have threatened mothers with having their children removed from their care for using a medicine that has had a miraculous and transformative effect on their sick children! But even lecturers in law will not follow such unjust and immoral laws.

The privatisation of medical cannabis

Lester Grinspoon predicted that cannabis would be the wonder drug of the 21st century. As our knowledge of the endocannabionoid system grows, the accuracy of his  prediction  underlies the politics of cannabis.

While the corporate media give the impression that cannabis medicine is being legalised, the truth is that cannabis medicine is being privatised.

The clinical trials announced by the New South Wales Minister for Medical Research, Prue Goward, will be run jointly with the British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals and will test the company’s genetically-modified cannabis. They are funded by a $3.5 million dollar grant from the New South Wales government. The spin put on this large gift of money to GW  Pharmaceuticals by Minister Goward was that ‘street marijuana’ had ‘too many poisons in it.’ Politicians like Ms Goward are helping pharmaceutical companies, while sprouting reefer madness. Their rhetoric can not change the testimony of tens-of-thousands of Australians that simple home-made cannabis medications are more effective than anything the pharmaceutical companies can provide. On the medical battlefield, cannabis medicines are slaying the monsters of Big Parma like a mutant tumour.

While Governments are sending us down the corporatized Big Pharma/Big Green ‘clinical trial’ road of medical cannabis, we need to learn from Australia’s medical cannabis consumers what medicines they are taking and how successful these are. The best science in the area is being conducted by the Australian Medical Cannabis Observatory Initiative, who are  working on a survey of the medicines that Australia’s medical cannabis community are currently using.

Spokesperson Dr. David Caldicott says they are seeking open science, not private science. As part of documenting Australian cannabis medicines, they offer to chemically analyse the underground medical cannabis products, assisted by a team of chemists from the ANU.

In contrast to the clinical trials that Australian governments are considering, which will involve genetically-modified corporate cannabis and will have little benefit for the overwhelming majority of medical cannabis consumers, the citizen-science  approach of the Australian Medical Cannabis Observatory will examine the actual products Australia’s underground medical cannabis community and record their treatments and their efficacy.




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