Cannabis oil cured breast can­cer, says KZN mom

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JEFF WICKS wicksj@sun­day­times.co.za

Kelly McQue went cold when her doc­tor told her she had breast can­cer, real­is­ing that she could die a painful death like her grand­fa­ther.

But the Bal­lito mother was de­ter­mined not to suf­fer like her grand­fa­ther had un­der a regime of of­ten bru­tal chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion. She turned in­stead to cannabis oil.

By go­ing the il­le­gal route, McQue joined many South Africans who use off-the-books cannabis prod­ucts.

There are just four peo­ple in South Africa us­ing mar­i­juana legally, hav­ing had their treat­ment ap­proved by the Medicines Con­trol Coun­cil.

“I had seen my grand­fa­ther go through the ac­cepted ways of treat­ing can­cer, and I knew that it was not for me. I wanted to live,” McQue said.

While us­ing dagga re­mains outlawed, that does not mean you can­not get it. A black­mar­ket weed in­dus­try is flour­ish­ing. From oils to balms, cannabis prod­ucts can be bought on­line, or on the sly from many health shops.

And if you can’t find it, you can just make it, like McQue did.

She trawled the web for a how-to guide and, by trial and er­ror, made the first batch of cannabis oil in her kitchen. It was this black sub­stance, tech­ni­cally il­le­gal, which she said saved her life.

“An old fam­ily friend had gone though the wringer with re­nal can­cer and chemo­ther­apy. The treat­ment caused him to go blind and he had given up. He agreed to do it with me and we treated our can­cers to­gether,” she said.

Within months, she claimed, they were both in re­mis­sion.

“It took us about eight months to get the all clear. I was very ex­cited be­cause I saw what hap­pened with my grand­fa­ther.

“With that came the re­al­i­sa­tion that if I could do it, any­one could. These prod­ucts are ev­ery­where. It used to just be the oil, now it is balms and co­conut in­fu­sions.

“I feel that the law is in­cor­rect, so there is no grey area for me. If I get caught I am in trou­ble, but eth­i­cally I have no prob­lem,” she said.

While this un­der­ground mar­ket flour­ishes, the Depart­ment of Health has moved into a fi­nal pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion phase that could lead to medic­i­nal mar­i­juana be­ing avail­able for doctors to pre­scribe.

The Med­i­cal In­no­va­tion Bill, opened for pub­lic com­ment in 2016, was first put for­ward by IFP MP Mario Ori­ani-Am­brosini dur­ing his own fight with can­cer. He died in 2014.

If the bill goes through, weed would be reg­u­lated like any other med­i­ca­tion.

The bill, along with a judg­ment handed down in the High Court in Cape Town this year, might be the be­gin­ning of de­crim­i­nal­is­ing the per­sonal use of dagga. It could sig­nify a chang­ing tide for cannabis users.

The Medicines Con­trol Coun­cil, which gov­erns the med­i­cal use of cannabis, has in the past five years ap­proved only four per­mits for doctors to pre­scribe medic­i­nal cannabis prod­ucts.

Such is the avail­abil­ity on the black­mar­ket, the coun­cil re­ceived just 15 ap­pli­ca­tions for ap­proval in that pe­riod.

Coun­cil spokesman Grif­fith Molewa said that for dagga to be used legally a doc­tor had to sub­mit a de­tailed mo­ti­va­tion for a spe­cific pa­tient. Each ap­pli­ca­tion was ad­ju­di­cated within 10 days.

Molewa said that the Depart­ment of Health had es­tab­lished guide­lines for the farm­ing of cannabis for medic­i­nal use af­ter a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence of its value.

But cannabis, hemp and med­i­cal mar­i­juana ad­vo­cate Shel­don Cramer (aka Bobby Green­hash) be­lieves the process of ap­ply­ing to the coun­cil is flawed.

“For most of the peo­ple that most need these prod­ucts, the R450 to sub­mit your ap­pli­ca­tion is just too much,” he said.

Cramer said that cannabis prod­ucts, medic­i­nal and oth­er­wise, were freely avail­able.

“All you need is an in­ter­net con­nec­tion and you can get any­thing that you want.

“Ob­vi­ously it re­mains il­le­gal, but in terms of the prod­ucts we sup­ply, we are con­fi­dent that we can de­fend any­thing in court,” he said.

Picture: Jackie Clausen

Kelly McQue with her daugh­ter Lib­erty. McQue swears by cannabis oil, which she says caused her breast can­cer to go into re­mis­sion.

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