Step up, not back. Cannabis Law Reform in South Australia

Increasingly, even though we have a legal framework to access Medical Cannabis, there are still significant challenges for health consumers in finding safe and affordable patient access pathways to Medical Cannabis.

Access to Medical Cannabis is a human right, yet in Australia it is still strangled by Commonwealth and State red tape.

Punitive measures rarely work, if at all.

Every day people are being forced to turn to the alternative (black) market to access cannabis for medical purposes. In doing so, they run the risk of being caught breaking the law in growing their own; or sourcing product of an inferior quality.

A Marshall Liberal Government wants to legislate to raise the maximum penalties for Cannabis possession from $500 to $2,000.

It believes that this is “keeping penalties in line with community expectations.”

How wrong can they be?

Former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and Barrister, Mick Palmer AO, has stated that there “lots of support across senior ranks of police for Medical Cannabis.

So why is then that so many people are needlessly targeted by police, tying up resources which could be better used in real crime prevention and community engagement?

Personal narratives are powerful instruments of change. Respectful, lobbying and activism is a commanding way to be heard.

You don’t always have to raise your voice to be heard, it’s often those who are quietly spoken and considered in their approach who are listened to.

So, don’t raise your voice, improve your argument and lobby for Cannabis Law Reform which will benefit not harm our communities.

After you leave here today – continue the conversation – and tell your story to your local Member of Parliament.

Justin Sinclair, Pharmacologist and Research Fellow at the National Institute of Complimentary Medicine house at Western Sydney University quotes Cicero in getting his message across “Salus populi suprema lex esto” which translates to

“The health of the people should be the supreme law.”

We must let science and those with lived experience to ultimately inform evidenced based Medical and other Cannabis policy.

Medical Cannabis – Time to regain our bearings

“Where is North?”, I asked my cab driver as he assisted me from the car.  I had arrived in Melbourne and I felt disorientated by the long shadows and grey buildings as I looked skyward to find the Sun.  The man looked at me, somewhat puzzled and hesitantly he pointed in a very general direction.  I smiled and thanked him.

I can’t help but think that a similar sense of confusion has fallen over our legislators and policy makers when it comes to Medical Cannabis.  I have just spent three full days at the United in Compassion Medical Cannabis Symposium listening to an array of world class speakers and experts in their field sharing their knowledge, their concerns and their hopes.

It is all but impossible to capture every highlight and compelling narrative from the event, however what is clear is that the public are overwhelmingly in favour of and are seeking Cannabis as a treatment option.

Prior to the symposium commencing a day was dedicated to offer a Workshop which was Australia’s first Medical Cannabis course, designed for health care practitioners, by health care practitioners.  Dr David Caldicott who designed and delivered the training reported that attendance was high (92 participants) and the Basic Science Module met the needs of participants to a very high degree. Invitations have been received to deliver more training and it would be prudent for all jurisdictions to get on board.  Wise too for those who design the curriculum for medical and allied health students to incorporate more than a cursory reference to cannabis in the curriculum.  Dr Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD of California rightly stated that Cannabis does not have an advocate in medical training.  It should. Opportunity knocks.

Delegates heard heartbreaking testimonials from loved ones who spoke from lived experience as they recounted their very personal stories and the daily challenges they face in accessing medical cannabis via safe and affordable pathways.  The veteran community is heavily impacted with scores of returned service men and women in need of effective treatment options for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Cannabis is a proven medicine.  I would go further and suggest that any of our front- line responders who dedicate their lives to serving  in the Emergency Services deserve access to medical cannabis as a treatment option when the need arises.

Compassion for those wanting to access medical cannabis is seriously lacking by our legislators. It need not be that way.  I wonder if our legislators had lived experience of combat, peacekeeping, responding to emergencies and caring for our communities, if their view of Medical Cannabis would be different? I suspect it would be.

Delegates heard from Senator Richard Di Natale who rightly stated that “forcing patients to act like criminals is the crime”.  Senator Di Natale again called for an amnesty and access to home grown Medical Cannabis. I welcome his move to introduce a Private Members Bill into the Parliament to effect this.

Barrister and writer Greg Barns believes that Medical Cannabis is a human right, yet in Australia it is still strangled by Commonwealth and State red tape. Former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and Barrister, Mick Palmer AO, told the audience that there is “lots of support across senior ranks of police for Medical Cannabis.”  So why is then that so many people are needlessly targeted by police, tying up resources which could be better used in real crime prevention and community engagement.  It was encouraging to learn that Greg Barns is currently exploring the option of a medical necessity defence for alternative (black) market healers.  Compassionate suppliers do genuinely meet an unmet need, albeit illegally under current law.

We heard of the incredible opportunities which exist for our aging population.  We learned about how creating environments in which people can thrive and “challenging the malignant philosophies” can deliver very different and positive outcomes in aging.  We learned that Medical Cannabis has a role to play, especially in alleviating chronic pain and other effects of aging.  The benefits to the economy in terms of the health budget alone are breathtaking.

Professor Simon Eckermann, Senior Professor of Health Economics at the Australian Health Services Research Institute and University of Wollongong has recently published Health Economics from Theory to Practice.  It includes full Medical Cannabis policy illustration.  This publication is a must for all Parliamentary Libraries and Health Policy units.  A preview can be found here:

The technical and scientific keynotes can’t be captured in the space of this blog but I’d encourage anyone wanting to know more to visit the UIC website in coming days and download the papers of interest.

For me the second to last word(s) comes from Justin Sinclair, Pharmacologist and Research Fellow at the National Institute of Complimentary Medicine house at Western Sydney University quoting Cicero “Salus populi suprema lex esto” which translates to “The health of the people should be the supreme law.”

The last word(s) are mine… Let’s find our bearings, look to the Sun and the stars if you must, but really you need not look further than the to the real and valid observations of those who work in this space. It is those observations and lived experience which should ultimately inform Medical Cannabis policy.

A note of gratitude and much respect to UIC Executive Director Lucy Haslam who believes that once you understand the benefits of Medical Cannabis and its potential to relieve suffering, you cannot hold on to views that were born of the “war on drugs.” Lucy rightly predicts that Cannabis will one day be viewed as a ‘wonder drug’ and hopes that mothers and nurses can lead the revolution. 

Lucy is but one strong voice, together we are many. Whist we do have an access framework in place it is cumbersome and access is also cost prohibitive. If you want to help it is quite simple.  Please add your voice by lobbying your local Member of Parliament (State & Federal) and together let’s work for safe, affordable and simple access to Medical Cannabis. 

The Heart of the Owl

The Heart of the Owl

 I hung a photograph on a wall in my home recently.  Oddly enough it wasn’t a photograph that I had captured.  It was taken by a dear friend.

When I first laid eyes on the image some months ago it spoke to me.  The words were not clearly audible, but I knew that in a matter of time the message would be deciphered, and the words would resound.

The moment came in the early hours, late last year.  Words filled my head and my heart and moved my soul.   I heard the words with such clarity I knew action needed to be taken and I felt I was ready.

I made a bold choice to walk a different path and with a sense of calm and reason I uttered three words “I’ve had enough.”

Those words said, a mixture of emotions ran through me and actions unravelled, some clumsily and some with absolute precision.  Then it struck me, all but one action had been taken.  I needed to hang that photograph.

I had been waiting for the right signs to guide me to the moment, and to the place it I would install it.  It did take time, but it eventually made its way from the corner of my home office, facing inwards, to a wall of my choosing, facing anyone who may have the privilege to gaze upon it.

It was through salty tears that I realised where I would hang it and when.  I was sad because this moment was as much about loss as it was about new beginnings.  I was leaving behind aspects of a life I wore like a comfy cashmere wrap and other aspects which ripped out my heart and eroded my very being.  With that sadness also came a sense of liberation and at that moment my tears stopped and I smiled.

Years of care, commitment, duty and responsibility have etched lines on my face and left scars, some virtual and others very real on my body, as it enters its 50th year.

I am a nurturer.  I am known to be reliable and down-to-earth.  I am acutely aware of the feelings of others, often to the detriment of my own.  I am comforted by order and structure and will more likely avoid confrontation and conflict than invoke it. Being kind, loving and compassionate comes naturally as does acceptance.

Let me tell you about the image.  It speaks to me and of promises I have made.  They are promises I have made to myself and to others.  When I look at the photograph I don’t just see…. I hear, I feel, I taste, and a heady scent consumes me.

I see wisdom and desire.  Not desire in the passionate sense, it is more profound than that.  If adoration, devotion, care and respect each had a sound, a note…. I would hear beautiful music. I do hear beautiful music.  Above all though, I feel.  I feel unconditional love, but it is of a love lost.  Each of those notes, if you will, now come together to create a striking sonata.

The image I have carefully fixed in place is that of an owl. A masked owl.  For me though, my mask has been ripped off, not peeled away but torn and discarded.

The Masquerade is over, my heart and soul are laid bare.

I am now writing the last few paragraphs of a chapter in my life which I knew had to draw to a close.

I have given, and I have received.  I have loved, and I have lost.  I am richer, stronger, at peace and above all, I am calm.

The owl has a downward pose.  It is respectful, as am I. Its eyes almost closed, yet open enough to acknowledge its surrounds and as if to pay tribute.  Its delicate plumage is so very intricate. A heart frames its features.  My heart forms a frame around memories I have created, and it beats for memories yet to be.  So many yet to be created.

There is no colour, there need not be, this moment is purely black and white. Ebony and ivory, a raven’s feathers falling on virgin snow, the plumage from a Pacific Gull washed onto a pristine beach.

It is black and white.

The heart of the owl.

This image  is subject to Copyright and is used with the permission of Annette Marner.


Oils ain’t Oils – Teresa McDowell

About the author of this piece:  Teresa is on a mission to empower people to harness the hemp life and lead a healthy living.  At the forefront of the movement since 2006 is Founder and Hemp Living Advocate, Teresa McDowell.  Since making her first, and most popular product, Skin Soothe, in Mt Barker, South Australia, Teresa has transformed her hemp skin care range into a brand with passion and purpose.

Oils ain’t Oils

Much has been shared in the media over recent times regarding hemp oil or ‘medical cannabis’.  For many people confusion remains around the differences between cannabis oil and hemp ‘seed’ oil.  Today I will endeavour to clear up some of that confusion.

Cannabis oil (sometimes referred to as ‘hemp oil’) is extracted from the flowering head and leaf of the cannabis plant.  Tinctures and oils made up of high THC (tetrahydrocannabidoids) and CBD (Cannabidiol) oil are used medicinally to treat chronic and terminal illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, PTSD, pain etc.

Medicinal cannabis is only legally available through prescription and access is currently very restrictive in Australia.   More needs to be done to allow sufferers quick, affordable and safe access.

CBD oil (the non-psychoactive cannabinoid) is also scheduled as a class 4 drug leaving sufferers with no option but to go through the lengthy TGA process via a GP willing to support them.  There is necessarily no guarantee however of a successful outcome.  The current process, in my view, is morally bankrupt given this healing herb has no toxic or hallucinogenic side effects.  I would remind our regulators and legislators that one of the fundamental principles of medicine is ‘do no harm’.   What harm are we doing as a society when nature is criminalised?

Hemp ‘seed’ oil is a dark, golden-green oil cold pressed from the industrial hemp seed and doesn’t contain any of the psychotropic properties of medical cannabis. It has very low levels of THC, down to 0.3% with a maximum of 1%.

Akin to a health supplement (such as fish oil) it may help prevent conditions such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and auto immune diseases by limiting the inflammatory process.

With the perfect balance of omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids (EFA’s), hemp seed oil is packed with anti-inflammatory compounds which is beneficial when dealing with degenerative diseases caused by inflammation.

A nutritional powerhouse, hemp seed oil is rich in essential vitamins and minerals including magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, D & A.  Healthy fats (EFA’s) and plant-based proteins help maintain heart health, lower blood cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.

Hemp seeds and oil are now legal to consume in Australia with regulations enacted on November 12, 2017.  This finally brings Australia in line with the rest of the western world and Aussie consumers can now enjoy the health benefits and delicious treats hemp foods offer.

Hemp Hemp Hooray!

More here:

The Breakwater (first published February 2016)


The Narungga people have always lived on Yorke Peninsula. Their country extends as far north as Port Broughton and east to the Hummock Ranges. Their neighbours were the Kaurna of the Adelaide Plains and the Nukunu to the North, with whom the Narungga would meet for trade and ceremony. Their expertise at fishing was admired by many of the early European settlers.

The first European settlers in this area were Joseph (Curley Joe) Simms and his wife Blanche who arrived in the early 1860’s.  The area known to the early Europeans as Glencoe was later, and still is, known as Simms Cove.

Curley Joe began fishing at the time copper was discovered on the Yorke Peninsula and in the families that arrived, Curley Joe had a ready market.  All seven of Joe’s sons became fishers (he and Blanche had 11 children).  Over the next many generations numerous Simms’ boats were commissioned and when not at work were anchored in Simms Cove.

For those of you reading this piece and have seen my photography captured in the place I refer to as ‘my sanctuary’ would be familiar with an iconic part of the Simms Cove-Moonta Bay landscape.  It is known as the breakwater.

This remnant timber has fascinated me for years so I set out to learn more.

I took the time to sit and listen to a remarkable local and extraordinary man, a descendent of Curley Joe, Ben Simms.

Ben is in his 84th year.  Ben has been many things in his life, a writer, a poet and a horse trainer but it is his affinity with the sea and fishing which is striking.

I was compelled to write these words after spending an afternoon in Ben’s company.  These words are my take on the ‘Sentinels’ at the bottom of the cliff at Simms Cove –  the remnant timber, the Breakwater.

These words are written from the perspective of a tree, a tree destined for life beyond its native forest, and are dedicated to Ben.

The Breakwater 

I grew from a seed and put down my roots in nutrient-rich heavy, clay soil.   I grew tall and straight and stood shoulder to shoulder in a forest of my kin.  My home, my sanctuary is on the eastern seaboard of Australia.

I am already 200 years old and I am the keeper of secrets.

It is spring and I’m adorned with a flourish of rich creamy flowers, native bees work busily in my canopy. I hear the crack of a stock whip in the distance as the cloven hooves of bullocks’ crash through the understory. The bullocky calmly encourages his team of beasts to ‘walk-on’ but not with a word but rather with nurturing actions.  A small band of sinewy, keen-eyed men mark my brethren for felling and I am targeted too.

I feel the bite of the saw rip deep into my bark and my flesh.  My scent, my blood, the smell of what they describe as turpentine is heavy on the ether as my leaves are crushed.  It is matter of some time until my remnants and broken spirit is heaved onto the flatbed dray and my journey begins.  “Walk-on”, the bullocky gestures.

I am a tree – I am supposed to stand sentinel for the term of my life but I am now moving. I am being moved.  I am moved.

Days later I reach a harbour, it’s bustling.  Hemp lines hold a cargo vessel alongside a makeshift wharf. The loading begins.

I am manhandled into the hold and wedged between my kin – we are heading to South Australia.  The journey around the rugged coastline is uneventful.  Spring turns into summer.

The activity at this port of Wallaroo is lively and hurried.  Steamers and majestic sail boats sit high on the tide.  The construction of a wharf is underway and farther down the coast, the construction of a jetty. The year is 1872 and the port is Moonta Bay.

I am surplus to requirements…or am I?  Have I been hand-picked to provide a safe haven for a fishing fleet?  Is this my destiny?

My length has been reduced now and I’m rolled, hauled and then suspended over a cliff and painstakingly lowered to a sandy resting place below.  Fishers are now also lumberjacks and engineers, they start to design a haven, a breakwater.  They get to work.  I am to be the centre piece.  There are more than thirty pieces of my kin now implanted in a watery bed.  I listen to the fishers and workmen as they recount their embellished tales.

I am the keeper of secrets.  With every passing day I add more to my vast chapters of knowledge and understanding.

I have served my purpose well and I have now seen many seasons. The tides ebb and flow, the ferocious sou-westerly gales gnash at my very being but I remain steadfast.

On calm clear nights I bear witness to the intensity of the celestial landscape.  I see black velvet scattered with precious gemstones.  Diamonds, rubies and large magellanic cloud are suspended in the vastness of space.  The Southern Cross pointed out by alpha and beta Centauri hangs.  I wonder how many navigators have gazed upon the crux – a welcome escort to those seeking direction or comfort.

I have afforded shelter to the Challa, the Rum-Runner and many other vessels over the years.   From time to time cutters, anchored in the deeper cooler water off-shore renew their rigging and chain.  The heavy chain, now compromised by the elements of salt and water are brought to my watery forest.

I am wrapped in chain and for a moment in time I am connected to my fellow sentinels.  It is said this is to add strength to my purpose.  I disagree. The sea soon erodes the chain and it disperses into the sea, fragmented and broken.  I remain steadfast.

I have been a bystander as skippers and deckhands, their backs braking and muscles burning with the sheer weight of their bounty finally get their prized catch to the top of the cliff.  Their catch is destined for market and so the next part of the journey begins for fish and fisher.

I am the keeper of secrets – I dare not tell a soul.

Young lovers meet at dusk at the base of the cliffs when the tide is near high.  The lovers embrace and collide with passion, they are alone.  They believe there are no witnesses to their unbridled desire.

I am the keeper of secrets – I dare not tell a soul.

I am weary; my years now number more than I care to count.  I’m weathered, I’m windswept but my surface is smooth.  No splinters, no shards which might catch and rip at a cloth.  A pacific gull, not long past its juvenile years, extends its wings and stretches.  As it does, its talons dig into me so it can maintain a steady balance.

I feel no pain but I do feel pleasure.  I feel the connection with another living creature.  It is comforting and gives me comfort to know that the majestic seabird picked me to perch upon.

You may think I am dead remnant timber soon to be lost to a watery grave but I am alive.

I live in a sanctuary and I offer sanctuary. I am part of an irreplaceable history but importantly I am very much part of the future.

I am the keeper of secrets.

Yellow Roses – my thoughts on Estate Planning (first published August 2016)

My choice is roses. Yellow roses; many beautiful yellow roses, some in bud and some in full bloom; but all cast adrift on the sea by family and friends.

The timing is uncertain and so it should be; but the place is definite.  This celebration and commemoration must take place in my sanctuary and it must be at sunset.  I am writing about my explicit wishes for a farewell upon my death.

Do you have a valid Will?  If you do, when was it last updated?  Does it reflect your wishes and does your family know and understand and will they respect those wishes?

This subject may be confronting for some but it need not be.  I’ve recently made the time to update a suite of important legal documents because my personal circumstances have changed.

I’ve updated my Will, my Enduring Power of Attorney and an Advance Care Directive.   There is another document I have completed and I will come to that.

Whilst this subject is very personal, I don’t have any reservations in sharing my thoughts.  Perhaps it’s because I am more comfortable and confident in my choices and decisions than I have ever been because I accept, with pragmatism, that from the day we are born we are on a trajectory towards death.

In the contest of life I have chosen to be proactive in so many ways.  It is cathartic on a spiritual and emotional level but it also makes sense on a practical level.

So what have I done? First and foremost I have sought and gained the trust of people I love and respect.  I’ve entrusted special people in my life with a very important responsibility.  I have asked them to act confidently on my behalf, in the event that I cannot.  I have legally appointed those chosen to act for me through the mechanism of an Enduring Power of Attorney.  I have also asked them to execute my Will following my death.  Importantly, they have accepted this responsibility without reservation.

I have also updated an existing advance care directive.  This has enabled me to determine what I want to happen in relation to certain personal areas of my life.  This relates to my health care, residential and accommodation arrangements, and other personal affairs.

In South Australia from 1 July 2014 the Advance Care Directives Act 2013 (SA) came into operation. This allows a person to:

  • set out values and wishes to guide decisions about their future healthcare and other personal matters
  • set out what, if any, particular healthcare they refuse and in what circumstances and
  • appoint one or more substitute decision-makers.

More here:

In terms of my Will – my instructions are also explicit.  In South Australia, it is important to note that if you die without a valid and up to date Will or without a Will altogether then you will have died ‘intestate’. This means that South Australian laws will determine how your estate will be distributed.

Just a few examples of what might happen are:

  • Any real estate you own may be sold instead of being left to a loved one.
  • Special personal items, such medals of service may not be given to the family member of your choice.
  • Your grandchildren may not receive the benefits of your estate.

The ‘other document’ I referenced and what I consider being the most delicate and personal decision I have made is that I have decided to be a body donor.

Put simply, in the event of my death and if my remains are deemed to be acceptable for donation, I have chosen to donate my body to the Adelaide Medical School Body Donation Program.

My reasons are many and each carefully considered.  This is not a decision I have taken lightly but it is my decision nonetheless. Importantly I have made this choice known to my family and they accept it (at least they are telling me that now).

In reviewing the information provided to me by the University of Adelaide, School of Medicine I read, “Donating your body to science is one of the greatest gifts one can give to make a lasting contribution to the education and training of our current & future health professionals and to advance science through research.”  I am pragmatic, I am a free-thinker and I agree.

More here:

A recent conversation I listened to between Richard Fidler and Dr Walter Wood also informed my decision and I truly believe it is the right one.  If you are interested you can listen here:

So, if you care about your death as much as you do your life; and you feel strongly about your wishes being respected and honoured, then plan now and let your wishes be known.  Make your wishes legal.  There are many law firms and legal practitioners well placed to provide sound and cost effective advice.  The cost to your family may be far greater if no plans are in place.

This blog does not constitute advice but rather I am sharing my personal opinion about the importance of estate planning.  I hope these words spark a conversation with your family or loved ones and that you consider seeking professional legal advice for your own peace of mind and that of your family.

In closing, if you have a preference to be cremated rather than buried or for a Beethoven, Mahler, Rachmaninov or Sibelius symphony to be played at your funeral service make that known too.  Your loved ones may just choose for you and my guess is that it may not reflect your very personal preference.

For me it is roses…lots of yellow roses….and for my cremated remains to be returned to nature and the sea with a beautiful symphony upon the ether, at sunset; and in my sanctuary.

In the name of the Father (first published June 2015)


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating how institutions like schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

The remit of the Royal Commission is to uncover where systems have failed to protect children so it can make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices.

The terms of reference (Letters Patent) of the Royal Commission can be found at this link:

I have been following the investigations and resultant media with interest, a very personal interest.

Not long after my father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer I decided that I wanted to tell his life story in a book, a personal family memento to hold dear.  Dad was more than happy to oblige, a gregarious story teller at the best of times, we got to work.

For the most part the recital of his life was him re-telling stories I’d heard some many times before and most delicately brushed with embellishments and augmented by old photos we poured over.  Whilst there was hardship and adversity, his life was predominantly contented.  It was a life of opportunities, which when they came knocking, were eagerly embraced.

Amongst the adversity lay a piece of darkness which was so dark no light could penetrate, Dad told me the story of his exploitation.  The abuse was perpetrated by a Catholic Priest and occurred when he was but a boy, an altar boy at St Anthony’s Church in Port Pirie.  It occurred in the 1940’s.

I know I should choose my words carefully and preface ‘abuse’ with ‘alleged’ because the claims are; and will remain unproven, indeed were almost unspoken.  However I won’t in this instance purely out of respect for my father.

Dad almost took his secret to his grave, I wonder how many have and how many will.  I told him, I promised him, I would seek answers but it wasn’t until 3 years after his death and following the airing of an ABC Four Corners program “Unholy Silence” that I chose not to keep mine or my father’s silence.

I sought an appointment with the Bishop of the Diocese in which my father spent his boyhood years. The meeting was cordial, respectful, business like almost.  I recounted the details my father shared with me and how his life was affected, immeasurably affected.

I wasn’t expecting answers or apologies but I wanted to be assured that if I, the mother of a young son and daughter, were to approach the church (any institution for that matter) with an allegation similar to my father’s claims that in this century I could be confident that the matter would be handled appropriately and impartially by the Church.

I received an expression of sorrow during the meeting which was later re-stated in writing along with findings.  My report was taken seriously and upon investigation it was discovered that there was a hearsay report about a priest in the parish in the early 1940’s, no actual report and no victim named.  It was also reported to me that a second priest was complained about for having ‘interfered’ with a young girl back around about 1920.

I was offered counselling “Towards Healing”, which I respectfully declined.  My wounds were superficial in comparison to those my father bared.

Remarkably, after the meeting and subsequent correspondence from the Bishop, I was not left with a sense of confidence that if a victim were to come forward in modern times that their complaint would be referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

I have tried to understand the actions of and I do have empathy for the (alleged) perpetrator.  I honestly can’t understand how a man or a woman for that matter can be expected to commit to a life of celibacy without support.  What that ‘support’ might look like is a mystery to me.

Celibacy, from the Latin, ‘cælibatus”, the state of being sexually abstinent, usually for religious reasons is, for most, is a foreign concept.  I personally struggle with how a human being can overcome the most primal urge to have sex.  I struggle with how some people of the cloth claim to practice and observe chastity but behind closed doors commit heinous crimes against innocent children to satisfy that primal instinct.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to choose or be asked (given orders) to take a path of chastity and in doing so how the Church cannot take some responsibility for the actions of their flock when they do commit horrendous crimes.

I accept that paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder and as such those who are diagnosed should be treated with respect as their illness is not something they fashioned but rather a disorder which can, in most cases I’m lead to believe, be treated.

What I can’t accept is the lengths the Church has gone to and continues to go to, to what I can only describe as to protect their brand, and power base.

I accept that Cardinal George Pell has been the target of many.  He has been scorned from within his Church and by the media.  That level of attack is not true justice but rather pursuit of the man and not the matter.  Despite that I do feel contempt for the Church despite what action has been taken.  For me it is personal, it is about what they have failed to do.

The total financial worth of the Church could never compensate the victims for the loss of self-worth, loss of dignity and for some the loss of their life.

I thought long and hard about writing this piece, however on this occasion I have let my heart rule my head. It is about my father, it is for my father.

I hope that in publishing this piece that if there are other men and women from my home town of around my father’s age (had he been alive today) that they may come forward in an attempt to get help and support.  Indeed anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse.

Maybe, just maybe they can find some peace by shining a light on their personal darkness.

If you or someone you know has been affected by child abuse there is much support available. Details of that support can be found at this link:

Cannabis – Sharing your lived experience


This weekend’s event, incorporating Adelaide’s Inaugural Hemp & Cannabis Expo would not have been possible without the tireless work of Alex & Allison Fragnito – I congratulate them for taking the initiative and I thank those who have embraced the opportunity to participate and share their passion and their vision for Cannabis and Hemp.

A narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

Everybody has a story to tell and when it comes to Cannabis, health and well-being for every positive story, there are many which don’t have happy endings.

It is my aim to empower you to have the courage to share your stories with those who can effect change. That is – those who make laws, our legislators, our Members of Parliament.

Personal narratives are powerful instruments of change.

Respectful, lobbying and activism is a commanding way to be heard.  You don’t always have to raise your voice to be heard, it’s often those who are quietly spoken and considered in their approach who are listened to.

There are so many stories untold and many yet to be created – let’s make them positive stories of recovery, cure, health & well-being.

Every day I hear that people don’t want to have to continue to break the law to access cannabis – so let’s be part of the movement that changes the law which opens the door much wider on safe and affordable access to cannabis.

Some History

Mankind has been purposefully consuming Cannabis to cure what ails them, for as long as the plant has been in use for agriculture. The earliest written records date back to around 2700BC, when Chinese physicians were recommending tea made from Cannabis leaves to treat ailments such as gout and diseases such as malaria.

It was also a constituent of what was thought to be the world’s first anaesthetic.  Western society did not realise its potential until the late 1700s. It was found to have many medicinal applications and became a common remedy for ailments ranging from asthma to yellow fever.


Hemp, like Cannabis has a long history in mankind’s evolution. Fast forward to present day – The potential to support employment via regional cultivation, processing and manufacturing of Industrial Hemp is evident due to the multitude of end uses this ecologically and economically sustainable crop can offer.

I was delighted to learn that the first Industrial Hemp crops will be in the ground later this year, following the State Government’s approval of the first cultivation licenses.  Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) and the other client departments involved are to be congratulated for their part in supporting this process from its inception.

I am a strong proponent of the establishment and development of the industry in South Australia. The possibilities are endless, provided the formative industry is well supported and nature delivers optimal growing conditions. I applaud the primary producers who have recognised the immense potential of including Industrial Hemp into their cropping rotations.

It is important to remember Tammy Franks’ MLC (Greens) dedicated support in the South Australian Parliament and the introduction of her Bill in November 2016.

Just 12 months ago, on April 13, 2017, the Bill to allow for the cultivation of Industrial Hemp passed the State Parliament with the support of the State Government and the Opposition (now in Government) – all citing a win for jobs and the environment.  I would have to say a huge win.

I would be remiss of me not to recognised the advocacy of the Industrial Hemp Association of SA and its founder Teresa McDowell who said it has been her “life-long goal to see the emergence of the Industrial Hemp industry in this State”. 

The Government is stating that based on current predictions, it is anticipated that within five years an expanding industrial hemp industry in South Australia could have a farm gate value of $3 million a year.  I strongly believe that number will grow rapidly.

Cannabis Legalisation

This a bold and smart move by the Greens’ leader Richard di Natalie.  While Medical Cannabis is now technically legal in Australia we still have a long way to go to bring about safe and affordable patient access pathways.

I am hoping this plan to decriminalise and legalise Cannabis more broadly will motivate the Federal, State and Territory Governments to lift their game in the Medical Cannabis space too.

I have no affiliation to a political party, but I will state that I believe The Greens’ deserves to receive multi-partisan support.

If you had asked me 30 years ago, I would have been fiercely opposed any decrimilisation or legalisation of Cannabis. However, my mantra is now “Education is the Key” – I have taken the time to educate myself and the science is breathtaking.   This means that now my view is very far removed from that of the 80’s.

The war on drugs is futile. Drugs are a health and social issue. Dr Alex Wodak, AM who among other things, is the President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation has stated that “current drug policy is politically motivated and ultimately unsustainable”.  I must agree.

It is time to wake up Australia and develop and implement smart, pragmatic policies which will deliver better social, health and justice outcomes for Australians.

There is so much stigma surrounding Cannabis, much of it stemming from its prohibition in the 1930s and the unfounded claims about the plant.  There is still a lot of work to do to bring alignment between those who are opposed to legalisation and those who know and understand it is not a matter of if but when.  Regulation not only has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue but there are significant social, health and environmental benefits too.

So far this year, 1,590 Australians have been killed by alcohol and there have been zero deaths from Cannabis, ever.  In 2017 alcohol was attributed to 5,475 deaths in Australia. That’s 15 deaths every day and that doesn’t cover off on those living with chronic illness as a result of alcohol consumption.

So where to you fit into this picture?  It’s simple – I need you to tell your stories.

I say again -personal narratives are powerful instruments of change. Respectful, lobbying and activism is a commanding way to be heard.  You don’t always have to raise your voice to be heard, it’s often those who are quietly spoken and considered in their approach who are listened to.

Here are the links I demonstrated during my presentation.  Explore them in your own time.   Identify your Elected Members and share your story. by Electorate

Our Government will tell us that we need more studies. In the case of Medical Cannabis there is robust scientific, peer reviewed evidence and more than 17,000 scholarly articles speak to its efficacy and still there are doubters. Future generations will wonder what all the fuss was about.  Granny Storm Crows List is a fabulous resource – take a dip.

Encountering resistance   – This is a useful document identifying the range of types of resistance, primarily to gender equality but has wider application, and ideas on what framing strategies to use.

Framing Equality – Gives ideas on framing social issues to win support.

How to talk about economics: A guide to changing the story

You may also find some useful stuff on the New Economics website

United in Compassion

Dr David Caldicott, Australian Medical Cannabis Observatory

The SA Offi e of Industrial Hemp & Medicinal Cannabis

The Office has been initiated by the Government of South Australia to support the establishment of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

Acting as a single point of contact the Office will work with industry and across government to provide ongoing support and advice, particularly for new ventures in the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp or medicinal cannabis.

I have to say it was very disappointing that the Office was not represented at the Expo.

So, I will conclude where I began….personal narratives are powerful instruments of change.

Respectful, lobbying and activism is a commanding way to be heard.  You don’t always have to raise your voice to be heard, it’s often those who are quietly spoken and considered in their approach who are listened to.

There are so many stories untold and many yet to be created – let’s make them positive stories of recovery, cure, health & well-being.



Hello, nice to see you…

While you are here, take your time to sift through theses pages where I have written about issues which move me.  Many things inspire and motivate me, more often than not it is people and it is places.

I believe strongly that without our environment there is no economy. I am  proponent Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp, I advocate for stronger regional communities through regional development and I am a proud supporter of Australia becoming a Republic.

I  believe that securing our food and water into the future is not something we should hope for but rather something we should strive for and that we should allow science and research to drive innovation and economic growth.

I often retreat to the sanctuary, my sanctuary, of the beach at Moonta Bay to find peace and equilibrium.

My frown lines are borne out of concern and sometimes fear and sadness; and my ample laughter lines are from living, loving and being hopeful.