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Sky News Interviews Dr James Stewart

Sky News Broadcast April 2022

Dr James Stewart is a GP with extensive experience in the Medicinal Cannabis section. He spoke to Tim Gilbert from Sky News about the prescription process and shared some insights and his experience as a Medicinal Cannabis prescriber in Australia.

Original video and image from Sky News.

Cannabis and Cancer: Oncology News Q&A with Dr James Stewart

Dr James Stewart 007 Bw

Dr Stewart, who was recently awarded Australian Doctor of the Year and the People’s Choice Award at the 2021 Australian Cannabis Industry Awards, says demand for medicinal cannabis has spiked across the nation with more Australian’s turning to medicinal cannabis in droves due to struggles with pain, anxiety and mental illness.

We caught up with him for a quick chat about cannabis and cancer…

Can you please outline what cannabis products are available to cancer patients in Australia versus other countries?

Australia is now very lucky to have a very large range of medicinal cannabis products available. We are one of the front running countries in terms of giving access to cannabis products. Only Canada, Israel, USA and a few countries in Europe have more or equal range of medicines available.

What is the typical usage of cannabis based medicines for oncology patients? 

I have used a range of different cannabis products to help my cancer patients. CBD predominant products are fantastic for easing generalised pain, helping with stress and anxiety and also elevating mood. THC is a fantastic anti-nausea medicine which I use as a 50:50 combination with CBD to assist with nausea from chemo-therapy. THC can also be used to help with sleep and added to CBD for extra assistance with pain.

Is there a role in pain management as well as mental health support? 

As mentioned above, cannabis products have the benefit of not only being able to assist with pain but also at the same time help with anxiety, stress relief and can assist with elevating mood.

Let’s look at changing in the process of access and whether we should consider decriminalising cannabis products for general use – what are your thoughts and vision for the future?

This is a tricky one. CBD, no doubt, should be made available over the counter. It is generally extremely well tolerated with very minimal side effects and only a few contraindications.

THC on the other hand has potential to be abused which can lead to issues. At daily moderate levels THC is fine to help with things like sleep, however if someone is using high dose THC daily, especially through inhalation methods, then this can lead to down regulation of our natural endocannabinoid system. From this, the person can develop some dependency and also some mental health issues like severe anxiety and paranoia.

However, like with all things, I don’t think we can be a Nanny State and should trust that people won’t abuse it so I think there is definitely some merit in the push for legalisation.

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Cannabis will be taken off WADA banned list, says top sports doctor

Dr Peter

The sports doctor who advised Lauren Jackson on using medicinal cannabis as part of her comeback says the star basketballer has a straightforward case for an exemption, and believes cannabis will eventually be removed from anti-doping banned lists because it is not performance enhancing.

Dr Peter Brukner, a sports physician and researcher who has worked with leading sides such as the Australian cricket team, the Australian Olympic team, Liverpool FC and several AFL clubs, has spent the past 12 months studying medicinal cannabis before a clinical trial he is running at La Trobe University this year.

The trial is researching the effect of cannabis on osteoarthritis knee pain, and will involve many ex-AFL players. The trial is associated with Levin Health, a Melbourne-based medicinal cannabis company that last year formed a sports advisory panel of Jackson, ex-AFL coach Alastair Clarkson and jockey Damien Oliver.

Jackson, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who is rated as one of the best female players in history, has been taking medicinal cannabis since last year to treat chronic knee pain, which led to her retirement in 2016.

Jackson has found great relief from the treatment, so much so she began contemplating a return to the court for home town team Albury Wodonga Bandits in the second-tier NBL1 East. But given almost all cannabis products are on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of substances prohibited in competition – and can attract lengthy suspensions – the 40-year said her comeback would hinge on getting a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

“If it is prescribed by a doctor under the appropriate process, there is a particular medicinal access scheme in Australia that you have to go through, if it is under that scheme, they will issue a TUE,” Brukner said.

“Lauren was concerned that she may not be able to continue taking the cannabis if she goes back. I have reassured her that is not the case.”

The need for athletes to seek TUEs for medicinal cannabis may be a moot point in the near future, Brukner believes. Debate has raged for years about whether cannabis is performance enhancing and belongs on WADA’s prohibited substances list.

In 2012, the Coalition of Major and Professional Sports, which represents the AFL, NRL, Rugby Australia, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia, argued that WADA should remove cannabis from the banned list.

In 2018, WADA removed cannabidiol, which is more commonly referred to as CBD and is the non-psychoactive, pain-relieving cannabinoid found in cannabis, from its prohibited list.

Last year, US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was prevented from running in the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive to cannabis. After an outpouring of sympathy for the runner, WADA announced it would respond to feedback from “a number of stakeholders” and review cannabis’ status on the prohibited list in 2022.

“There is no performance enhancement. The reason cannabis is on the banned list is not because of performance enhancement, it is because of legality issues and they didn’t want to encourage [athletes] to take it,” Brukner said.

“Arguably it is performance limiting. There has never been any evidence it is performance enhancing.

“I think it will come off soon. There are moves to review it and it probably should have never been on it. It probably affects a sport’s business more, whether people take cannabis or not. It is just one of those things, they put all those illegal, antisocial drugs on the list.

“But the use of cannabis has become more and more widespread, it is legal in half the states of America.”

Brukner said if trials confirmed medicinal cannabis was an effective source of pain relief for athletes, there would be no reason why active sportsmen and sportswomen could not use it as part of regular treatment.

Original article and image from The Sydney Morning Herald:

Lauren Jackson’s basketball comeback hinging on cannabis use exemption

Lauren Jackson News

An exemption to continue using medicinal cannabis will be key after Lauren Jackson opened the door to an incredible World Cup basketball comeback as a 41-year-old later this year.

Arguably the best female player in history, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member, three-time WNBA MVP and 2006 world champion with the Opals was forced into retirement with chronic knee pain in 2016.

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But the 40-year-old has found relief since trialling medicinal cannabis and is a major advocate of the treatment that has coaxed her out of retirement to play for her hometown team Albury-Wodonga Bandits in the second-tier NBL1 from 2 April.

Set to play out of the stadium named after her, Jackson said she had applied for a therapeutic use exemption but would have to stop if denied.

“That’s been critical in my ability to recover and come back, just the way I’ve been training has helped me a lot,” she said. “I’m really thankful I got on that trial and I’ll explore my options to get that exemption.

“The last few games, there was so much pain and that ended my career right there, but I don’t feel that anymore.”

How she handles the grind of competitive basketball again will determine Jackson’s next step, with the NBL1’s season running into August and the ideal build-up to September’s Fiba World Cup in Sydney.

The news of her return comes with Liz Cambage’s Opals career seemingly over, the WNBA centre declaring she had “zero” interest in the program after her late Olympics withdrawal that followed an incident in a warm-up game.

Jackson has the backing of Opals coach Sandy Brondello and would-be teammates and is keeping her options open despite attempting to talk down the prospect on Wednesday.

“I haven’t played for eight years … I might be terrible; there are so many unknowns at this point and I’m 40 years old,” she said. “The stars have really aligned for me at the moment … to be pain free, get out and move again is what I’m hoping for.

“I was really drained, basketball had taken a huge toll on me emotionally so it’s going to be a new experience for me and I’m so excited.”

Jackson’s Opals injection could be just the tonic for the World Cup hosts, who struggled without Cambage in a quarter-final Tokyo Games exit. They have since dropped a place to No 3 in the world and finished third at the Asia Cup late last year.

Original Article and image from The Guardian:

WNBA Legend Lauren Jackson Says Medical Cannabis Has ‘Been Incredible’ For Her Chronic Pain Management

Lauren Jackson At The Welcome Home Parade In Sydney

Being a professional athlete is not all just fun, fame and money as it may seem.

It’s also a ton of hard work and pushing both your body and your mind to extremes. And always pushing the limits.

Competition? Don’t get me started.  

That’s when sports injuries occur. When you need to raise the bar, to beat the competition, when your challenge your body just one iota too much.

Most pro athletes are sadly familiar with injuries. In fact, there are precious few who have been lucky enough to get through a long career without being hurt at least once. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that more and more are looking at medical cannabis and/or CBD products to help handle their injuries. Some have even decided to jump into the industry in one form or another, usually motivated by amazing personal results.

The latest athlete to join the group in spreading the message about the benefits of cannabis is Lauren Elizabeth Jackson, one of the best female basketball players of all time.

Jackson is the first Australian basketball player ever to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a two-time WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm, three-time MVP, seven-time WNBA All-Star and the overall number-one pick in the 2011 draft. What’s more, Jackson won four Olympic medals (three silver and one bronze) and was on course to get a fifth until a degenerative knee injury forced her to retire from basketball, wrote ABC News.  

“It didn’t end the way I wanted it [to],” Jackson said.

Medical Cannabis Instead Of Painkillers 

Throughout her career, Jackson underwent many surgeries for which she relied on painkillers. Even in retirement, chronic knee, hip and lower back pain persists.

I’ve been open about my battle with prescription medication during my career and when I retired, I went off everything because I wanted to raise my kids and just be the very best version of myself,” Jackson said.

Fortunately, her physician proposed trying medical marijuana when she asked for alternative treatment for pain management.

“It’s been incredible,” Jackson explained. “It’s helped me a lot and gotten me to the point where I’m able to train again and live a very active lifestyle with my two little boys.”

Spreading The Message 

Jackson was so thrilled with the results that she joined a new Sports Advisory Board, run by the Melbourne-based sports medicine company, Levin Group, which develops pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis for chronic pain and concussion. 

Jackson aims to help reduce the stigma associated with the plant by sharing her personal experience.

“It’s something that I personally believe in because of how my body has handled it,” Jackson said. “I just want to help get the message out there and hopefully help change people’s lives.”

Photo: Courtesy of Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

Original article and image from ABC News: