Terminal cancer sufferer's wife pleads for medical cannabis

Nowra woman Sarah* hates feeling like a criminal because she is giving cannabis to her dying husband.

John*, who is in his 40s, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of oral cancer in February when he was given six to 12 months to live.

Drastic surgery saw most of his tongue and the floor of his mouth removed, while a skin graft was taken from his arm to form a new tongue.

He is now fed through a tube in his stomach and has had trouble speaking, swallowing and sleeping.

Last week - as he started chemotherapy - Sarah illegally sourced cannabis oil to lessen his pain and anxiety. And it worked.

"I feel like a criminal, but at the same time I have no other choice," she said.

"I've done extensive research into the effects of medicinal cannabis and found so many success stories.

"It has really relaxed John, but not so he's in a state of being stoned, more of a calming sensation, and he's slept better than he has in months. Plus he hasn't suffered any side effects from the chemo."

Sarah adds one drop of cannabis oil to her husband's feeding tube every morning and night, and said it gave him far more relief than any pharmaceutical medication.

She supports moves to decriminalise the use of cannabis for terminally ill patients.

"My hope is that the government puts people before profits - pharmaceutical companies rule the government and doctors," she said.

"Personally I don't have time to wait until the government legalises it - I've got to do what I think is right, no matter what the law says."

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association is the latest organisation to support medical cannabis.

The union backs the recommendations of a NSW upper house standing committee to decriminalise the medical use of cannabis for terminally ill patients.

"Our members recognise the importance of exploring improved options for effective pain management, particularly for those patients who suffer from constant chronic pain," NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said.

The nursing union's announcement comes just days after NSW Nationals MP Kevin Anderson revealed plans to introduce legislation that could legalise cannabis for terminally-ill patients.

Premier Mike Baird is said to be "sympathetic" towards people who use cannabis for medicinal purposes, and Health Minister Jillian Skinner has also softened her stance with her recent support of a clinical cannabis trial.

* Not their real names


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