Our series of interviews with CBD advocates, across a range of different industries, aiming to help strip back the stigma and offer new insights on CBD and its potential, continues this month with John Green.
John’s been campaigning for the reclassification of medical marijuana in the UK for the best part of a decade. His introduction to cannabis’s therapeutic benefits was a very personal one – in November 2013, his mother, the writer Candida Lycett Green, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. After researching ways to help her fight her pain, John came across medicinal cannabis and Candida began regularly ingesting cannabidiol-rich cannabutter, which she found aided her sleep, walking and even allowed her to ride her beloved horse.
John works tirelessly to raise awareness of the therapeutic value of cannabis, has created a strain named after his mum and given away seeds to two paediatric foundations in South America that use high CBD cannabis medicines mostly for managing child epilepsy. Here’s what he had to say…
How much of a difference do you think cannabis made to easing your mother’s pain?
“A great deal. She was suffering from pancreatic cancer, which comes with excruciating pain for which she was prescribed liquid morphine. Through ingestion of 1:1 cannabis oil, she was able to reduce her prescribed medication and, in my opinion, have a much easier passing.”
Was it her experience that inspired you to become a vocal supporter of therapeutic cannabis?
“Yes, it certainly was. Before she died she wrote to me saying, ‘I believe CBD can help save many lives’. After her death, we started the website www.medicalmarijuana.co.uk to raise awareness to the therapeutic properties of the cannabis plant.”
You created the strain of cannabis Candida Cd1 and formed the seedbank “medical marijuana genetics”, how did this come about?
“We were aware that if you were trying to make oil and provide access, 99 per cent of the commercially available cannabis was high THC. We wanted to provide access to CBD-dominant ratios like 20:1 and 3:1 that were available in California from dispensaries. Candida CD1 offers 20 per cent CBD with less than 1 per cent THC, which makes it ideal for oil for children suffering from epilepsy, and is the same ratio as the Bedrocan oil currently prescribed to children in the UK.”
Do you think there is still a stigma around medical cannabis?
“Yes, because while there is great anecdotal and preclinical data on the therapeutic properties of cannabis, there is very little ‘clinical’ data in the form of RCTs [randomised controlled tests], which are what is required for ‘drugs’ to be approved by the MRHA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency]. This is mainly down to the fact that each cannabis plant is made up of 120 plus individual cannabinoids, which make it very difficult to make a ‘pharmaceutical product’ that can be put through rigorous testing.”
Do you think more needs to be done in terms of education and access?
“Yes, we are just at the start of understanding the endocannabinoid system. Regarding access, I have been all over the world and despite the illegality of cannabis in the UK, there are a great number of people and clubs growing cannabis and making oils for the local community. This gives me great pride.”
Are you hopeful that the UN’s recent reclassification may help?
“It all helps in raising awareness to the medical properties, which encourages research and compassion. This is good.”
Do you support full legalisation for recreational use?
“Yes, but with education on access to CBD-rich cultivars, as opposed to the high-THC varieties derived from Skunk No 1.”
Do you think we’re edging closer towards it?
“We have lobbying groups for alcohol and pharmaceutical companies that are more powerful than medical cannabis companies. As long as this still exists, it may take a while. However, more and more people are understanding the benefits, growing and making oil. This gives me great hope.”