The case for medicinal cannabis

My dad only ever tried marijuana once, when he was with some hockey mates in his 20s. “I didn’t like it,” he told me. “It made me skittish and jumpy; I much prefer a beer.”

When he was aged in his 70s, I tried to convince him to try it again.

Because by then, my dad was dying of cancer. He was in excruciating pain, and the script of endone his doctor kept prescribing just wasn’t cutting it.


With cancer growing in his bones, and the act of even standing up causing him to wince, we were looking for anything and everything that could ease his pain.

A friend of a friend who was very active in the cancer healing community offered to find us some medicinal cannabis; can’t hurt to try, I thought?

It was a little trickier to procure that we imagined. There is a legal process in Australia for sourcing and using medicinal cannabis, but it can (understandably) only be prescribed by a medical practitioner, is done on a case-by-case basis.

This is causing many people who are in pain and dealing with serious medical conditions to seek out cannabis in less legal, more risky ways, says Elisabetta Faenza, CEO, LeafCann Group & Medicinal Cannabis Precision Medicine Expert.

“If the legal medicinal cannabis sector is unable to grow and produce enough medicine to satisfy demand, many patients will look to the dangerous black market,” Faenza says.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the use of medicinal cannabis for neuropathic or nerve pain, yet many doctors are still wary of prescribing it – despite the growing volume of studies that are showing very promising results from controlled products.

“Accelerating growth of the legitimate medicinal cannabis sector, not backyard operations, is the only way to ensure more people access safe pain relief.”

In my dad’s case, we never got it over the line; he became too sick, too soon, and had to be moved to a hospice for full-time care.

But for others’ who are suffering from cancer or other debilitating diseases, I see no reason why medicinal cannabis shouldn’t be more freely available.

What do you think? Should we aim to make medicinal cannabis easier for patients to access – or do you think a more open system would lead to abuse and misuse?