Man believes adults should be given access to legal weed
PAUL Hilder considers himself to be a pretty normal guy.
He is a former schoolteacher who has since turned his attention to music and studio work. He has children he adores and he wants to live a healthy and happy life.
But he believes Australia's outdated doctrines don't allow this - they want him to be hooked on legal heroin instead.
It all stems back to a car accident in 2009 which saw his lower leg and heel bone crushed.
"I was driving with my family from Mackay to Emerald when an elderly gentleman turned across my path on a highway. I swerved to miss him, my car got airborne and I was sent into a tree," he told news.com.au.
"Thankfully my kids were fine, but I was left severely injured when the front wheel was forced through the bottom of the car where the break was, smashing my heel into 10 pieces and changing my life forever."
The Queensland-based musician underwent multiple surgeries to try and fix the pain, but nothing worked.
However, having used recreational cannabis throughout his life, Mr Hilder turned to smoking and found the pain relief he was searching for.
"I found THC effective in elevating my mood as it helped take my mind away from the pain. Further to the relaxation there was the massive anti-inflammatory properties I experienced," he said.
"It might only sound minor, but marijuana helps me walk more freely around my house, which is a huge win for quality of life."
Mr Hilder said after noticing the benefits cannabis offered him, he attempted to get a legal prescription for medicinal marijuana to ensure he was not breaking the law.
After months of trying, he found himself no closer to being given access to medical cannabis, with the medicine appearing to be reserved only for those that were terminally ill.
And even though he told his doctors that weed had helped with pain relief, Mr Hilder found himself offered methadone, OxyContin and other opiates instead.
"OxyContin is the medicine I take morning and night but it has awful side effects," he said.
"I can tell you first-hand that the drug is terribly addictive and gives you withdrawals just 12 hours after using it. It changes my mood and causes me to be aggressive when I am normally lucid."
Unable to get medicinal marijuana and wanting to avoid putting himself in a situation where he had to buy from the black market, Mr Hilder decided to grow his own for pain relief.
Even though he wasn't growing to sell, he was caught in possession of a single cannabis plant and seeds.
As a result he says his career and reputation are in tatters, even though he believes it was the system that let him down and forced him to grow his own cannabis.
Mr Hilder said his struggles have demonstrated a real lack of knowledge about the positive effects of cannabis from within the medical community, which is why he believes it should be made recreationally legal and easier for all adults to obtain.
"I am not saying we feed hash cookies to kids, but adults should be allowed to responsibly purchase marijuana for relaxation or pain relief," he said.
"We need to stop the reefer madness and make it legal like alcohol, which I believe is a far more damaging drug."
Health minister Greg Hunt admitted doctors are reluctant to prescribe cannabis, but said there are no real government barriers at all to accessing medicinal cannabis.
"It is up to individual doctors - governments shouldn't interfere in the prescribing practices of individual doctors," he said in a statement.
"We are working with the Australian Medical Association and the College of GPs to ensure that doctors have the full information, so they can ensure whether this is or isn't in the best interest of their patients," he said.
The comments come as Australia's budding medicinal cannabis sector has been given approval to begin exports.
Mr Hunt believes allowing medicinal cannabis product exports will help the developing domestic market to grow.
"By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this, in turn, helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia," he said in a statement.
Such a move would bring us close to a number of US states - including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington DC - which all made weed recreationally legal on January first this year.
This brought it in line with Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Greece, parts of India, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay - all of which have made recreational weed use legal or decriminalised.
Looking at these countries makes Mr Hilder disappointed in Australia and he admits the only reasons he hasn't picked up and moved to one of these countries is because he wants to be near his children.
"My kids are my first priority, but the irony is I can't care for them without the proper pain relief," he said.
While Mr Hilder's motives are about seeking pain relief, he believes cannabis should be made easily available for all to use responsibly.
"The human rights of people in our community need to allow them access to humanity's oldest and safest medicine," he said.
Earlier this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine completed the world's most comprehensive study into marijuana which examined more than 10,000 scientific abstracts dating back to 1999.
The extensive 395-page report unearthed more than 100 conclusions about the health effects of recreational and therapeutic cannabis use, including evidence supporting the therapeutic effects of weed.
"In adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, oral cannabinoids are effective antiemetics," the report read.
"In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.
"In adults with multiple sclerosis (MS)-related spasticity, short-term use of oral cannabinoids improves patient reported spasticity symptoms."
When looking at the effects of cannabis or cannabinoid-based therapeutics on the human immune system, the researchers said there is insufficient data to draw overarching conclusions.
However, the report claims there is "limited evidence to suggest that regular exposure to cannabis smoke may have anti-inflammatory activity."
Despite overwhelming evidence to suggest otherwise, there are still many websites countering the argument for legalisation.
"Psychoactive substances that affect the mind, whether it is MDMA, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol - the list goes on and on - are not a solution to man's ills or his personal failings or problems," one website reads.
"Using drugs to 'solve' a problem in interpersonal relationships begets new problems associated with drug use. Drug-induced thoughts and emotions are just that - drug-induced. A person's real thoughts and true emotions do not stem from a chemical substance.
"A healthy body and a well-functioning mind undamaged by psychoactive chemical substances are requisite to living life fully, finding self-satisfaction, and experiencing rewarding interpersonal relationships. In truth, there is no chemical substitute for living life."
Mr Hilder is currently working with the #StandUpforCannabis campaign and is working to hold a national day of action on May 18, 2018. If you want to take part, he can be contacted here.