Jeff Ditchfield and the Quest for Perfect Medicinal Oil
Jeff Ditchfield is cannabis activism’s answer to Robin Hood; for years he has altruistically put himself in a legal firing line to provide sick people with the medicine they need. In 2002 he founded the Bud Buddies UK Medicinal Cannabis Organisation and in doing so became a poster boy for medicinal cannabis in the UK.
For half a decade the club operated as a members-only service which supplies education, support, and medicinal cannabis to gravely ill patients. “The philosophy at Bud Buddies is to empower people to be self-sufficient,” Jeff told me last week. “So all members are taught how to cultivate and the guidance provided on making preparations depends on the illness or disease of the individual.”
Members of Bud Buddies essentially have two options when considering how to treat their condition: to legally take pharmaceutical drugs that would invariably come with a string of harmful side effects or break the law and use cannabis. As you can probably imagine, the Misuse of Drugs Act would be the least of your considerations if you found yourself in that position.
People who self-medicate with cannabis in the UK risk up to five years in prison and people proven to be supplying sick people with medicine face up to 14 years behind bars. Jeff used to run his operation from a coffee shop in Rhyl, Wales, which contained a ‘private members area where people could self-medicate’.
In 2004 he found himself on the sharp end of the draconian cannabis laws and became prosecuted for supplying an MS sufferer with cannabis. He was eventually acquitted by a jury at Chester Crown Court using a defence of ‘necessity’. However that wasn’t the end of the problems he encountered with the police whilst simply trying to improve the lives of seriously sick individuals: he was back in court in 2007, up on more cannabis-related charges, which essentially forced the UK arm of his organisation to Spain.
“No one at all should be prosecuted for cannabis in my opinion,” Jeff stressed when I asked him about his experiences of the UK’s moralistic approach to cannabis regulation. “It can be worse for parents; I am aware of one father who has had their terminally ill child made a ward of court because he was administering [cannabis] oil in hospital.”
These days the Bud Buddies are concentrating on research of the preparation and application of cannabinoid concentrated oil. This has resulted in Jeff taking on the responsibility of researching and attempting to locate the optimum strains for making the oil, a quest that has taken him across the globe. “It is ‘cheese’ that’s mainly available in the UK,” he clarified. “That’s just one of the 5,000 strains of cannabis available. The cultivation market has been driven by the recreational demand for THC, meaning CBD has been bred out of strains.
“I’m on a tour of the Caribbean at the minute meeting various Government officials regarding obtaining a cannabis research licence to research the medical properties of cannabinoid preparations.”
So what is Jeff looking for in the perfect strain to make his medicinal oil? “Lab testing of strains and cannabinoid preparations is an ongoing process,” he said. “Mainly I cultivate high THC, high CBD and 2:1 and 1:1 strains. I find that these strains give me a wide range of options when I am making medicinal preparations.”
What makes this process so difficult? “Consistency has been the main problem. There are many seed companies claiming that they have stable strains containing significant amounts of CBD, but sadly for many it is merely a marketing strategy. In my experience CBD Crew are the most accurate.”
Anyone with even a basic knowledge of cannabis knows that it contains a myriad of medicinal properties. It’s starting to look like the benefits could have wide implications for healthcare. The wealth of evidence demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of the plant has become so extensive that even the staunchest prohibitionists can no longer turn a blind eye.
Researchers in one study administered CBD oil to sufferers of epilepsy and found that their seizures were reduced by 54 per cent. More research has concluded that THC can be used to treat multiple sclerosis after demonstrating a 30 per cent decrease in instances of spasticity in their sample. Other clinical trials have highlighted that cannabis can shrink aggressive cancer cells, alleviate depression, and sooth anxiety. The U.S. government are so convinced about the medical applications of weed that they have now felt compelled to procure a patent for it.
Despite this, and even in the face of evidence ripe for development, researchers in the UK have to jump through hoops made up of reams of red tape due to the legal status of the drug. The situation is undermining the efficiency of the research process. Professor Nutt, the defunct government drug adviser told the BBC, when pressed on the topic of drug laws interfering with science: “We have regulations which are 50 years old, have never been reviewed and they are holding us back, they’re stopping us doing the science and I think it’s a disgrace actually”.
What we know about the benefits of cannabis is pretty narrow compared to what we could know if it wasn’t for the dogmatic, dangerous, and largely irrelevant restrictions regarding cannabis in the UK. “With regards to medicinal cannabis I am still learning, the more questions I answer the more I have,” Jeff explained before he went off to ‘visit some illegal plantations in Jamaica’.
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