“Dream come true”: Olivia Newton-John wants more people to have access to medicinal cannabis
Olivia Newton-John believes Australia is “on its way” to making medicinal cannabis legal to those who need it thanks to a $3 million research pledge from the federal government.
The Grease actress and singer is a firm believer in medicinal cannabis in cancer treatment, which she credits to helping her wean off morphine during her third breast cancer battle.
“I’m right here, right now, alive and healthy,” she said on Sunday at the annual Wellness Walk and Research Run.
“Last year, I was flat on my back in the centre [the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre] and this year, through treatment and medicinal cannabis, I am feeling fantastic.
“I hope to be able to soon offer that to everyone – that’s my dream.”
Now, that dream is inching closer to becoming reality as the federal government has pledged three million dollars to medicinal cannabis research.
“It’s a dream come true. We’re on our way,” said the star.
Health Minister Greg Hunt stood beside Newton-John on stage, as he announced the funding will go towards examining how cannabis can be used to help alleviate cancer pain, symptoms and other side effects.
He said the government is committed to ensure a “safe, quality supply” of medicinal cannabis to Australian patients, “but only when it is prescribed by a medical professional”.
Medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia, but doctors very rarely prescribe it.
According to the government, over 11,000 Australians have been approved to use the drug medicinally – mostly this year.
“Given the increase in prescribed medicinal cannabis, the Government has supported the nation’s medicinal cannabis industry, and cut red tape to help meet demand,” said Hunt.
The Aussie actress said while the funding was a step in the right direction, the amount of Australians with access to the drug is “frustrating”.
She wants Australia to follow in the footsteps of the United States where “they’ve discovered it hasn’t caused all the problems that people are afraid of”.
“People need to let go of that old hipping thing [about the drug],” she said.
“It has helped me incredibly, with pain, with sleep, with anxiety – particularly when I had to wean myself off morphine.”
“And I used cannabis.”
According to Hunt, there are not enough well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis, and further research is needed to support doctors on their decisions.