How medical marijuana saved the life of a KZN resident

Cannabis oil and marijuana
Cannabis oil / iStock

Medical marijuana has been a lifesaver for KZN resident Adrian Anderson and his wife Cathleen…

A Constitutional Court ruling making it legal for adults to possess and smoke cannabis (also known as weed, marijuana, and dagga) in a private space was celebrated by scores of South Africans this week.

The ruling also allows residents to grow weed on their private premises. Police will not be allowed to arrest any adult for using marijuana at their home.

Parliament has been given two years to amend the relevant laws relating to possession of weed.

It is important to note, however, that people still face prosecution for being intoxicated with cannabis while driving. Labour experts have also stressed that employers can also dismiss staff who show up to work intoxicated – even if cannabis is used for medical reasons.

The government took to Twitter shortly after the verdict to clarify that the sale of cannabis is still prohibited.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) welcomed the court’s decision, saying that “people should be free to decide without interference from the state whether or not to use a substance such as cannabis in the privacy of their own home, in the same way as they can choose whether or not to consume alcohol at home”.

But some organisations believe the ruling will have a negative impact on society, like alcohol abuse or tobacco use.

Whether you are for or against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, many are turning to the plant to help with medical ailments.  

Adrian Anderson says his wife, Cathleen, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2007.  

The incurable inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to several health problems.

“My wife has had a tough 10 years since being diagnosed with the disease. This illness affects different people in different ways from stomach pain to nausea, fatigue, weight loss, cramps, cysts etcetera,” Adrian tells us.

The Ladysmith resident says they tried many things, before finally turning to full extracted cannabis oil (FECO) five months ago.  

“Over the years we followed all the medical advice available with regards to this incurable disease and the flare-ups and hospital visits continued. We used cannabis in our twenties and knew what it was about, but the fantastic part was that there are people who have studied this plant and realised it’s true healing properties, which we searched online for and found out how it’s done.”

Adrian says they have had heard of cannabis helping cancer patients but had no idea that it could assist with Crohn’s disease.

“The Cannabis plant is put through a certain process to fully extract the oil. Cath was taking oil doses as big as a grain size of rice in a blank capsule at night time and went to bed,” says Adrian.

While the treating of cannabis for medical conditions is controversial, demand is growing.

Africa’s first medicinal cannabis dispensary opened in Durban earlier this year.

Former ‘Idols SA’ contestant Kyle Deutsch, who is a qualified and practising chiropractor, reportedly works at the centre as its in-house chiropractor.

“I believe 100% there is a stigma attached to cannabis. This (medicinal cannabis) I feel is a completely separate entity. It’s completely unrelated to the whole drug conception of cannabis. This is the wellness of the body. We are working toward the holistic treatment of the body. It’s cutting-edge medicine and it’s where the forefront of medicine is and it’s natural‚” he told TshisaLIVE in May.

For Adrian and his wife, medical marijuana has been a lifesaver.  

“Cath recently had a colonoscopy about eight weeks ago and we were hoping to see a section of the bowel improve, as my wife was told she had 80% chance of contracting colon cancer this year – as if Crohn’s isn’t enough. The colonoscopy report says my wife is endoscopically clear of Crohn’s. Is she cured? We don’t know. We don’t know because no one’s been allowed to study the possibilities of this plant.”

He welcomes the court ruling and hopes it will lead to more people being helped.

“The court ruling was the best possible outcome – now we can save lives! My message to people against the ruling is, forget the stigma associated – there is no stigma that can outweigh the value of human life.”

It’s still a bit of trial and error, but Adrian is happy with the progress his wife has made through the use of medical marijuana.

“All I can say is I have my wife back and I have not seen her like this since she was 21 years old.”

Main image courtesy of iStock/Fudio