Medical marijuana gives hope to sick and suffering but it's no cure-all green bullet

With the medical marijuana amendment to the drug act passing the Federal Parliament last month, there could be many claims of miracle cures among the real-world applications.

Lucy Haslam is one person who led the charge for a change in the law along with her son Dan who died from cancer on February 24 last year. The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 2016 passed on the anniversary of his death.

"We felt passionate about it and had made a promise to Dan, we would try an achieve it," the former nurse told Yahoo7. It was a "bittersweet" victory, not the end of the battle.

The legislative fight helped Ms Haslam deal with the grief of Dan's death, but so did her will to help other patients and their families suffering whose could be alleviated with medical marijuana.

Lucy and Lou Haslam have fought hard to change Australia's medical marijuana laws. Source: Sunday Night
Lucy and Lou Haslam have fought hard to change Australia's medical marijuana laws. Source: Sunday Night

Her petition for the Turnbull government to enact the "Dan's Law" already earned more than 350,000 signatures – the greatest number of any on the site in Australia.

Ms Haslam said, "It will always be Dan's Law," but now her fight turns to ensuring the legislation is broad enough to provide easy and affordable access for all.

Health Minister Sussan Ley in a statement described the bill's passing as "an historic day" that would the "missing piece in a patient's treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy".

But Ms Haslam warned the minister "She probably hasn't seen the last of me yet," as her focus turns to educating doctors and nurses and "allowing a patient to access in a safe and affordable way" – a measure she calls the "Dan test".

"There's no point in it being legal if it's not affordable," Ms Haslam said.

On the black market a gram of marijuana costs $20 on average. Typically there is no information about where or how the plant was gown or what is in it, which is not good news for sick people.

According to Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist who has spent more than 50 years studying the plant, its healing potential is exponential.

"We have just scratched the surface," he told National Geographic last June in a slight against laws that have locked cannabis away from study.

"And I greatly regret that I don't have another lifetime to devote to this field, for we may well discover that cannabinoids are involved in some way in all human diseases."

Texan biochemist and former cancer researcher Dennis Hill claims he was able to cure his prostate cancer using just cannabis oil, subduing the aggressive malignant tumour discovered in January 2010 into benign remission in less than a year.

"A substantial barrier to cannabis treating serious illness is fear of the unknown," Dr Hill said after he was given the all clear.

As well as treating some cancers and alleviating the displeasure of chemotherapy, there are further studies that show cannabis can be used to treat autism, AIDS, anorexia and it could be a better treatment for ADHD than Adderall or Ritalin.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren even suggested last month it might be the answer to the massive spike in opiate addiction among American adults – an epidemic killing more than car accidents.

It has proven to be a green bullet for severe epilepsy sufferers who experience multiple seizures a day – but these "cures" are not applicable to everyone.

Cowra teen Karley Miller underwent a hemispherectomy last September after suffering a nine-hour fit – the crescendo of a lifelong battle with epilepsy.

Commenters on Facebook criticised Karley's choice, saying incorrectly that cannabis could have fixed her problem.

"Giving her cannabis oil wouldn't have helped her," her mother Nickki Miller told Yahoo7, because Karley's was "not a typical epilepsy".

A stroke in the womb led to Karley developing Sturge-Webber syndrome, causing her brain to misfire 24 hours a day. But now the seizures have stopped.

Karley Miller. Photo: Facebook
Karley Miller. Photo: Facebook

"We can laugh at it now because it has cured her," Ms Miller said. "The world is different, it's brighter – so much brighter for her now."

As more nations embrace it and explore its potential, the possible applications of medical marijuana seem endless – but as with many miracle cures, advocates should not try to sell cannabis oil as snake oil cure-alls.