DAGGA SAVED MY LIFE
Cannabis oil cured breast cancer, says KZN mom
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.