Health advocate wants public debate on medicinal cannabis

    Tommy Roche: Alternative cancer treatments

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    A LOCAL man who devotes his time to spreading awareness of alternative cancer treatments wants to know why a proven cancer treatment is declared illegal in our country.

    In a newly published article on his website cancerireland.ie, local man Tommy Roche who lives in Kilkenny City pulls no punches today in a Reporter interview as he asks the pertinent questions that are seldom posed and never answered.

    * Why do legislators refuse to legalize medicinal cannabis when it has been proven that it fights cancer and other illnesses.

    *Why are cigarettes legal when they are related to circa 6,000 deaths in our communities every year?

    * Why is alcohol legal when the deaths of up to 1,000 men and women are attributable to alcohol in our country every year?

    Tommy accuses certain male and female politicians of keeping cannabis from our people with a cancer diagnosis because of vested interests, including pharmaceutical giants and the pharmacy business.

    He says that a bill put before the Dáil aimed at legalizing medicinal cannabis was voted down by the Health Products Regulatory Body (HPRA) and the Oireachtas Health Committee.

    All this negativity as a 2018 study, published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science showed that 88.54% of patients agreed that cannabis should be legalized for chronic pain medicinal purposes and that they viewed it as a reasonable pain management option.

    Tommy stresses that today’s story is not a cheap shot at our medical profession which he agrees does fantastic work in many fields, including medical emergencies and trauma.

    Nor, he stresses, is it an attempt to get illicit drugs legalized for general public use.

    He also has a question mark over prescription drugs as he points out that in 2016 the HPRA received a total of 3,264 reports of new adverse reaction associated with the use of medicines that had HPRA approval.

    Of these, 161 patients were reported to have died while on treatment. Ironically, the highest number, 45, involved cancer drugs.

    The HPRA claims that in many of these cases, significant underlying illness, disease progression and other factors contributed to the deaths.

    Tommy emphasizes that he is not a medical practitioner, nor does he have any particular qualifications in relation to medicine or illness.

    But through his website cancerireland.ie he provides legitimate information for those diagnosed with cancer.

    He also writes extensively about cancer prevention and possible alternatives to chemotherapy and radiation should anyone receive a cancer diagnosis.

    He is a firm believer that prevention is always better than cure and on that score he cites medically-agreed lifestyle choices, including keeping fit and eating proper foods, as ways of helping to stave off the disease.

    He says the time is right for a public debate on the legalizing of cannabis oil and believes this should be done in honour of brave survivors and in a bid to avoid what under present circumstances he describes as the inevitable deaths of thousands more men, women and children unless there is a drastic change in the way cancer is treated or ill-treated in our country.

    In summary he says, the current restrictions on access to medical cannabis do nothing for the 40,000 of our people who are diagnosed with cancer every year and who may prefer medical cannabis as a treatment option above more dangerous conventional therapies.

    There is a substantial body of scientific evidence, along with countless testimonies supporting the benefits of cannabis in treating cancer.

    Furthermore, the restrictions do nothing for the 800,000 people in our country who suffer from chronic pain, of whom 4 in 10 do not get relief from existing authorized pain killers.

    Yet, the evidence is strongest for the efficacy of medicinal cannabis in the area of pain according to Professor Mike Barnes, consultant neurologist, professor of neurological rehabilitation and author of the authoritative report on medicinal cannabis for the UK Parliament, and Professor David Finn, who has spent 16 years researching the area of medicinal cannabis, Tommy adds.

    Restrictions also ignore the fact that there is no evidence that the side effects of medicinal cannabis are anywhere as serious as the effects of drugs that are toxic, that kill people and that are already authorised and sold in chemists countrywide.

    Professors Mike Barnes and David Finn say the side effects of medicinal cannabis products- and they acknowledge there were some- were moderate.

    The medicinal use of cannabis is now legal or will shortly be legal in Uruguay, the UK, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway.

    In Portugal the Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill this year to legalize marijuana-based medicines, as did the USA in 30 States.

    • For more information on cancer go to cancerireland.ie