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Victorian bowel cancer patient charged with cultivating cannabis

A Victorian grandmother is set to face court charged with cultivation and possession of cannabis after she said she was using the narcotic to treat her stage-three bowel cancer.

Alice Burns said a lack of affordable medicinal cannabis led to her decision to grow her own cannabis, which she then used to make cannabis oil.

The 54-year-old was arrested and charged in June, after a police tip-off led to a search of her home in regional Victoria’s Otway Ranges.

“The local policeman knew that I had cancer and had been using it for that. I admitted to everything. I said it was all mine, but they still charged my partner, who is also my carer, too,” Ms Burns told

The pair will face Colac Magistrates’ Court in January where Ms Burns said she planned to fight the charges under common law rights.

“I feel like I am really being discriminated against here. It should be my right to choose how I treat my cancer,” she said.

Ms Burns’ legal case comes as demand for medicinal cannabis is skyrocketing.

Ms Burns said cost was a major barrier to buying medicinal cannabis legally through the current medical system.

With the help of her doctor, Ms Burns said she had tried to apply for a hospital trial of medicinal cannabis, but there was told there were no current trials suitable for her.

The mother-of-three estimated she would be paying about $1500 a month for cannabis oil bought with a prescription.

Getting cannabis oil on the black market was a much cheaper option, Ms Burns said and was the first method she used to buy the drug.

However, even buying medicinal cannabis on the black market was financially unsustainable in the long term, she said.

Ms Burns estimated she spent $10,000 sourcing medicinal cannabis on the black market since her diagnosis in January, before coming up with the solution to grow her own and then make the oil.

“The cost is amazing. I have emptied out my bank account.

In a 2019 survey conducted by The Lambert of 900 Australians with inflammatory bowel disease, 25 percent were using medicinal cannabis to self-medicate. Of those, only the three out of 212 were doing so legally, Prof. McGregor said.

Another recent survey Australians using medicinal cannabis to treat a variety of conditions found only 25 out of more than 1300 were “getting the official stuff”, he added.

The two major deterrents to using medicinal cannabis legally were the difficulties of finding a doctor to apply to the TGA on their behalf, and the cost of medicinal cannabis, which averaged about $10,000-$20,000 per year,” he said.

Read full story by Emily McPherson here.

Photo Credit – Photographer: Julia Teichman Source:

Posted on: October 24 2019

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