In Australia Andrew Katelaris has been advocating the benefits of cannabis for decades. His strong support and "high risk" strategies drew a lot of positive and negative attention. Caused him to loose his license and even be jailed for producing and supplying cannabis oil to children with epilepsy. In the latest case he represented himself at court and by the end of the trial the jury decided to acquit him of all charges. On that occasion he spoke to SBS and Emma Papaemmanouel. He believes that cannabis is a blessing for humanity and that both its cultivation and use must be again legalized as it was for thousands of years.
In 1988 Dr Andrew Katelaris initially researched the industrial uses of hemp. Trying to find an alternative source of paper that wouldn't require the cutting of trees. In 1994 he got involved in the production of a documentary called "Billion dollar crop". Screen Australia describes it as : "A film about cannabis or hemp as it is also known and its potential industrial and agricultural uses. The film reveals the conspiracies behind the original prohibition of cannabis. It investigates the prejudices surrounding its use as a recreational drug that are preventing one of the world's richest sources of food, fibre, fuel and medicine to be cultivated in Australia".
The documentary raised awareness and in 1997 he was granted the first industrial hemp license in NSW. One research led to another and Dr Katelaris later became very interested in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Especially in cases of epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain and opioid depentancy. In 2001 he was issued a license to grow plants for medical research, but a political change revoked the license and he was eventually charged for the hemp crops he cultivated in the Hunter Valley. He was threatened with a 20 year jail sentence and ended with just having to pay a good behavioral bond.
It was then that the medical board became involved and gave him an ultimatum. Cease all medical cannabis research and stay registered or continue and let your registration go. He found that an easy decision to make and let go of his doctor's license. Ever since he has been a very strong advocate for cannabis having witnessed and documented miraculous transformations in numerous patients that trialed cannabis.
Andrew Katelaris supports a three tier supply system:
1)Home growing, for individuals to produce their own supply of cannabis products.
2) Proxy growing, for organizations that support patients that can't grow the plant themselves
3) Pharmaceutical cannabis, but not the monopoly of it. Because the monopoly would raise the prices even higher than the black market.
Andrew Katelaris dared to show his laboratory on TV and practically drew police on his premises in order to make his case in favor of cannabis. He even spent months in prison creating his own medical necessity defense. Representing himself at court, the witnesses he called convinced the jury of his innocence and in late 2018 was acquitted of all charges.
"Truth is very powerful weapon" he says "Once you have seen the results, the miraculous transformations that can be achieved with a lot of care, love and the right amount of properly prepared therapeutic cannabis, it gives you a purpose in life, it gives you a reason to push forward against any opposition".
He claims cannabis is a blessing to humanity, the safest therapeutic active substance and will keep on fighting for it's total legalization. For medicinal and recreational purposes.
"Cannabis had thousands of years of legality and only a few decades of illegality". Of course it's a blessing to humanity if they have the intelligence and courage to use it" he explained to SBS Radio.
Listen to Andrew Katelaris full interview at SBS Radio