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A Drop at a Time: How Cannabis Oil Is Changing Lives of Cancer Patients in the UK

April 17, 2014

In almost every other way, it was a very typical summer day for George. A sociology scholar turned documentary filmmaker, he was out for a coffee when he decided to stop by a local health store to visit a good friend, the shop owner. Unbeknownst to him at the time, what ultimately transpired though the course of his visit would send George on an 18-month long adventure that would deeply intertwine the lives of over eight different strangers.

Shortly after arriving at the shop, a new customer walked in with a special request: cannabis oil. “When he walked in,” began George, “it crossed my mind that he had cancer. He just looked like someone who had cancer. This guy was in his late 50s and, when he asked for cannabis oil, he obviously had no idea what he was talking about.” George and the shop owner didn’t, either.

Given the strong support of medical cannabis in the US, most Americans would not be surprised by the request for cannabis oil. George, however, lives in the United Kingdom, where citizens still face harsh penalties for growing and possessing cannabis. Unlike the US, Canada, and other European countries where cannabis policy has only become more liberal over the past few years, marijuana policy in the UK has actually regressed.

Under UK drug law, various illicit substances are placed into different classes depending on how hazardous they are to your health. For a short period of time (between 2004 and 2009), cannabis was classified as one of the least harmful substances, earning a Class C ranking. Class C placement means that those caught in possession of the herb will face a maximum two years in prison.

Though a Class C penalty for cannabis seems harsh, marijuana’s brief stint in the lowest rung of the UK’s classification system represented a small moment of tolerance by the British government. Yet, unfortunately, the decision to reclassify cannabis as a Class B drug was made again in 2009, alongside substances like codeine and amphetamines. Under Class B restrictions, any person caught growing or in possession of cannabis in the UK (with the exception of foreigners with a medical prescription obtained in elsewhere in Europe) faces a fine and/or up to five years in prison.

So, when a cancer patient walked into a local health shop looking for marijuana oil, it wasn’t a surprise that neither George nor the shop owner understood exactly what he was talking about.

“As his story came out, we found that he had lung cancer,” said George. “It had spread from his lungs to his hips, then to his bones, and to his neck. He had a lump under his skin. He couldn’t really walk, he was on crutches. After he had been through two bouts of chemotherapy, he had been told by the doctors that they weren’t going to offer him anymore.” In his trip to the health shop, this man was by all accounts trying to find the last medicine that may extend his life

The man’s plight spurred George and the shop owner to investigate. What exactly is cannabis oil and why did this man believe it would have an impact on his cancer? Like most resourceful people, George took to the internet. He was shocked at what he found.

“It was overwhelming. It was almost like this white noise of information.” Not long after beginning his search, George stumbled upon the rising swarm of research that suggests cannabis may be an effective tool for reducing tumors and combatting cancer. As recently as 2013, studies completed at the Compultense University of Madrid have found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) actually causes cancer cells to auto-digest in animal models, thereby drastically reducing tumor size and prevalence. 

While there is a well of information on the subject found in various academic journals (there is even an annual international convention on cannabinoid medicine where doctors and researchers present their findings), most of this research is under-publicized and remains in the form of difficult-to-understand scientific language. Yet, at the same time, many people find it hard to give legitimacy to the waves of anecdotal information that claims cannabis is effective for everything from phantom limb pain to cerebral palsy.

Enter Bud Buddies: Project Storm.

Watch the Bud Buddies: Project Storm trailer on YouTube

It only took one patient to inspire George to reach out to Jeff Ditchfield and Bud Buddies, a UK organization that gives cannabis oil to patients completely free of charge and teaches patients how to make it themselves. Cannabis oil, also known as Rick Simpson Oil, is an essential oil extracted from the cannabis plant which can be taken orally, giving patients the benefits of active cannabinoids while avoiding the side effects of smoking the plant. Patients, however, still experiece the psychoactive effects of the plant with cannabis oil, causing some to opt for oils made with high CBD strains

Merging both his filmmaking talents and the infrastructure Bud Buddies had already created, Project Storm was put into action. Project Storm is a documentary which follows the lives of four adults and two children with terminal cancer on their quest to find a medicine to prolong their lives after traditional treatment has failed. Given that the UK has such a strict policy when it comes to cannabis, Project Storm aims to give British audiences a different understanding of the plant. In the film, the viewer is taken everywhere from cannabis laboratories to grow houses and patient homes to give audiences the most comprehensive view of the cannabis world possible.

“At the moment in the UK,” George explained, “the cannabis debate is not a vote winner. There’s not enough public opinion to actually affect legislation. Once there is a unified voice and it’s quite clear that the public feels a certain way, then you’ll start to win votes.”

George and the Bud Buddies team hope to begin changing minds about cannabis by showing the uphill battle faced by everyday citizens when trying to gain access to medical resources which seem to be gaining legitimacy almost everywhere except the UK.

“Why is this not public knowledge? Why are people not standing up in arms screaming for this, demanding it?” George asked. “With Project Storm, we’re aiming to capture the attention of people like you and me. People who, when they look at this documentary, see members of their own family. You’re going to see a man who is like your father or granddad. You’re going to see Reka, a mother of two in her forties. She’s got bowel cancer and has a less than 5% chance of being alive in two years. You are going to see people go through the experience of cancer.”

Not only is this type of activism extremely powerful, it gives the viewer a very intimate understanding of the current dilemma the terminally ill face in Britain. Project Storm doesn’t seek to simply provide viewers with more anecdotal or scientific information that may only further the confusion about medicinal cannabis. Rather, it explores the science, research, and history that have all contributed to our complicated understanding of the cannabis plant. It’s an appeal to human understanding and compassion.

“If you’re dealing with people who are dying of cancer and something that they believe is going to save them, you have a responsibility in terms of being objective. I can’t put out a film that’s going to inspire false hope.”

Though Project Storm is far from complete, George and those involved in the project have already been deeply impacted by the film. The Project Storm team has not yet done any formal press releases, but donations from supportive Britons have already been trickling in. “This isn’t about money,” said George. “It’s about maximum impact.”

While the efficacy of this project is yet to be determined, one thing is certain: one man’s passion has already touched the lives of several people searching for just a little more time on this earth.

 

Photo credit: limowreck666Drome ; floresyplantas.netLollyman via photopin cc

  • Rick Simpson

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    Email: ricksimcanabis@gmail.com

    • Wanda

      Is cannabis oil safe to use with cirrhosis?

    • Jazmyn Douillard

      SCAM!! This guy is on every scam warning site and preys on the terminally ill

      • Michael Scott

        Hey, Jazmyn, which “guy” are you referring to?

  • Kathryn Murray

    can you use cannabis oil to help with sleep. I am fortunate not to have cancer, but sleep very badly due to chronic pain
    and do not want to use Pharmaceutical drugs. I would appreciate any advice. Kathryn.

    • kathryn_in_ma

      Yes, pain management is what most people use cannabis oil for.

    • Ghassan Isseidah

      I licked a very small amount off a tooth pick about the size of 1/10th of a hair and a couple hours later my left eye refused to stay open. That night I had the best sleep of my life. The oil was from a batch I made a few days earlier, from a strain called “Gods Gift”.

    • Danielle Grimmett

      I used it to sleep.. best I’ve slept in years. I have lupus and recently suffered temporary paralysis from a mini stroke… I would definitely recommend it. However I did not purchase online… I went to a local vape shop and the brand they recommended was liquid gold. Works wonders

      • Kathryn Murray

        Where are you living? There are vape shops in Ireland but cannabis is illegal here. Thanks.

    • Ginny

      Yes yes yes Kathryn! A friend gave me a syringe of Cannabis Oil while I was in South Africa last month. One tiny droplet squeezed onto the back of hand, lick it off, and three hours later, I fell asleep naturally and woke up seven hours later! No I’ll effect.
      Now I am back In America, and sleepless!!! I did not dare fly in with the oil.
      I live in MA and hoping with the recent legislation legalizing Marijuana, I will soon be able o buy it in my home town.
      I have always been anti drugs, legal and illegal. I don’t smoke., live a healthy lifestyle and can’t believe I am promoting Cannabis Oil!!!! But I am! Ginny

      • Hed Furst, III

        its only a drug because big pharma and the government dont give a shit about its citizens.

      • Michael Scott

        Ginny, I hope you realize that it’s legal to buy cannabis right next door in DC. (I thought it was legal there even back when you posted this, no?)

    • James Kelly

      Cannabis oil is awesome for insomnia as well

      • Kathryn Murray

        Thank you James. My problem is where can I access genuine cannabis oil? I live in Ireland where it is illegal. Annacanamed are saying its easy to do and others are saying they are not good. If someone can tell me where I can source genuine oil I would be very happy.
        Many thanks
        Kathryn

  • Paul Holt

    Hi… can cannabis oil be used by someone who has c.o.p.d. . Been told by my doctors that I have 20% of my lungs left so was wondering if this would help me and if so how … many thanks . Paul Holt

    • kathryn_in_ma

      I medicate for COPD with a little of both RSO and CBD oils every night right before retiring for the night. After brushing my teeth and drinking a cup of water, i dry a spot on my gum under my upper lip and put 1/10 mg drop of each on the spot (oil sticks nicely to the dryness) so the cannabinoids in the oils have time to seep into the bloodstream without going through the gastric system. I am diagnosed at 30% capacity and have been very active and have not had to use the albuterol emergency puffer. I do take the Advair pharma along with.

      • Paul Holt

        Hi Kathryn. Thanks for the reply . Have only just started looking into these type of remedies so I will look up the oils you have recommended . I live in the UK. so I will have to look where I can legally purchase them from as well .. once again THANKS

  • Kathryn Murray

    I live in Ireland, so how can I gain access to this oil, as it is deemed to be illegal here.

  • Great informative article. I cannot wait to see the film and hope it inspires other countries to open up in the same ways. Good luck to you guys in the U.K.

    Right now in South Africa they are about to push through medical legalization. The vote here is predominantly a yes so far and it is almost sure to be passed in the next few months.

    LEGALIZE! http://anx.co.za/

  • George Graham

    My Mother has breast cancer and she was doing well with the chemo, but now she has pain and a lump under her arm. I live in Florida and she lives in PA., how can I get her real good grade of oil with the thc for the pain. I have read a lot on the benefits of fighting cancer and I don’t know where I can get it. I thought about going to Colorado, but can it be shipped?

  • Cannabis Data

    Since watching my Grandpa suffer with cancer, and dying on his birthday, November 29, 2015, I started a site. I gather as many of the nih.gov reports as I can find, by ailment/illness, neat and tidy, to help folks find information regarding the use of cannabis oil. #apoptosis #healTHCareFreedom #ownyourself #FREETHEMARKET #endthewarondrugs
    http://www.cannabisdata.org

    • Michael Scott

      Sorry for your gramps’ death. (my birthday, too, btw). I’ll check your data, thanks!

  • Samantha

    Can the oil be used for cancer patient who has had a stroke?

    • Zoey Thompson

      Yes Samantha. The antioxidant properties of the oil equally benefit the heart and prevent a range of cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

      • Samantha

        Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try it only two days after my post my uncle passed away on the 4th April. Very quickly and unexpectedly after only being diagnosed 5 weeks earlier. I wish everyone else trying all the best it certainly does seem to help people. Thank you for your reply.

        • Zoey Thompson

          My deepest sympathy

  • Cin Thurlow

    Hi, my name is cindy I live in the U.S. Someone in my family has bone cancer and in terrible pain. It is very difficult to find out more info on the cannabis oil with high CBD and low in the THC. Can you help? Stephen Carr?

  • billie39

    Is Hemp Oil and cannabis Oil the same thing.

    • Ronél le Roux

      No it is not the same.

  • Andy apease

    Trevor,I did post something that would have been very useful to you.However,it seems others would prefer you to suffer.Sorry.What you are looking for is available,but apparently,others would prefer you not to have this information

  • Andy apease

    Trev,you are posting on the wrong site.This one is so heavily censored,you have no hope of getting any relevant information to help you.This will be my last post.I cannot tolerate such heavy unwarranted censorship.Do yourself a favour and find a site where you can seek help uncensored

  • Emma Bidwell

    Hi,

    My mum is 72 and was diagnosed with 5 brain tumours and small cell lung cancer in January this year, which is spreading at a dramatic speed through her body. She is on morphine patches that don’t seem to be helping very much, so I, like Trev below would like to try cannabis oil. I also don’t want to be scammed or purchase rubbish and I don’t really want to buy from outside the UK, please could someone advise.

    Thanks
    Emma

  • Neil cooke

    My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer yesterday but says she had it for about 6 months, they say chemo will not help. Been looking at your page and everyone seems to say how good cannabis oil is.I live in the UK, so where would I get it .I know you all have your own problems but could someone get back to me asap as there’s not much time left .
    Thanks for your time
    Neil Cooke

  • Neil cooke

    Hi .my mother was diagnosed yesterday with pancreatic cancer , what are my options
    Look forward to your reply
    Thanks
    Neil

  • How To

    Hi My name is Elior, I have a brin cancer named LOW GRADE GLIOMA 2 for 8 years and I would love to know if a cannabis oil can help me in any way. Also I would like to know, where can I get cannabis oil or how can i reach people and doctors who understand more in that. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks alot

  • William Niblock

    I have recently been given the wonderful news that I have stage 4 throat and lymphatic cancer with a few months left. The VA is about to torture me with their radiation and chemo program, which I dont want to do, but having a hard time finding the oil I need in Florida, as have a new med. marijuana law that only allows lose dose CBD material to use. So any help getting the RSO quality oil or the cannabis to produce it is what I desparately need before time runs out.
    Thank you for any leads.

    • Whatley

      Warning!!! AnnCannaMed is a scammer. Be careful!!! They will rip you off.

  • Gene Brennan

    facebook : cannabis oil success stories , hope for haliegh , charlottes web, darren steven miller…. i hope that some of these pages can help ! there is so much research out there …… read read read . educate ! you can always pm on fb and i will try and guide you through the maze.

  • Gene Brennan

    once you become an informed patient or caregiver 29 states now have some form of medical cannabis…..

  • Gene Brennan

    Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.

    Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere.

    Project CBD responds to inquiries from all over the world. Almost everyone wants to know where to get CBD-rich products and how to use them for maximum benefit. After decades in which only high-THC cannabis was available in North America and beyond, CBD-rich strains and products are now available to medical users.

    “CBD-rich” versus “CBD dominant:” By “CBD-rich,” we mean a cannabis strain or product that has equal amounts of CBD and THC, or more CBD than THC (usually at least 4 percent CBD by dry weight.). By “CBD-dominant,” we mean strains or products that are CBD-rich but have very little THC content.

  • Lorraine Fox

    try sites like The Truth about Cancer or on YouTube there are stories about people who have cured theirself with RSO. One lady cured her stage 4 lung cancer and shows how to make it.

  • BillandDorothy Glendinning

    My younger sister lives in Lockerbie Scotland has cancer in her lung and lymph nodes. She is now on morphine for the pain. Her son has checked out some sites that are saying cannabis oil can help. He also suggested the pits from apricots helped some people. I live in Vancouver and I know two ladies that had cancer and were told they have 3 months to live. Both of them started taken CBD and both of them this week have no cancer cells left. How can my sister get this without being arrested as a criminal. Bill G

  • Full Fill

    Hi, my uncle is suffring from large intestines cancer. Day by day he is being so weak.. and we can’t afford medicine to buy… It’s too much expensive.. and some one said about cannabis oil for treatment. I read about this oil. It’s more bennificial.. and it’s not available in pakistan. I need this oil in hurry bro.. I will be very thankful to you.. regards Adnan