IT’S a sad truth, but most of us know someone suffering like Toney Fitzgerald.
As documented in the Western Advocate last week, the 55-year-old was recently diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time, and after a long and unsuccessful round of surgery and treatments, he has turned to marijuana to cure his ailment.
Last month he got in touch with Professor Raphael Mechoulam, a medicinal chemistry researcher at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an expert in the field, who believes large-scale clinical trials on humans are needed to explore the full benefits of the drug.
Former NSW Premier Mike Baird first started talking about the potential of medical marijuana for the treatment of the terminally ill in 2014.
His interest soon solidified to become three separate trials of medical cannabis, at a cost of $9 million during five years.
The first trial assessed the value of cannabis to relieve the seizures endured by children with severe epilepsy.
That trial was followed by another testing the efficacy of cannabis to improve the quality of life for people with terminal illness by reducing their pain and nausea.
A third trial assessed the use of cannabis for patients enduring the discomfort associated with chemotherapy.
These trials did not look at the value of cannabis for the treatment of many of the other conditions the drug has been said to alleviate, including, among others, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, migraines, Crohn's disease, and spinal cord injury and disease.
Although 23 states in the US, Canada and some nations in Europe have now approved the use of medical cannabis, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) agrees with the NSW government in saying the evidence in favour of medical cannabis is patchy.
It’s certainly not for the Western Advocate to argue a point of medicine with the AMA, but with the trial results still largely up in the air our point is this: if it helps even one person suffering from chronic illness while not harming others, medicinal marijuana must be worth legalising.
“When you are in the fight of your life, you pull out all steps to get a cure,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
If any of us had our lives on the line we’d probably say the same thing.
It’s Mr Fitzgerald’s life. Within all limits of reason and safety he should be entitled to fight for it in which ever way he chooses.