Melanoma and Cannabis

A sister’s fight with skin cancer, and a cure the government won’t acknowledge

By Owen Smith

In previous articles I’ve focused on the edible and topical products at the CBC of C—how they’re made, tested & developed in the context of an unlicensed Canadian cannabis dispensary—but in this article I’m going to step back from the science and tell you about why I’ve become involved with medical cannabis. In the wake of Michelle Rainey passing of Melanoma, I feel that sharing my family’s journey with this cancer an important task, especially when an increasing number of people contracting the disease. The conventional treatments are a gauntlet of radiation, surgeries, and drugs that come with a host of incapacitating side-effects. It’s important we consider the well-being of patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, and offer alternatives that will bring ease and comfort during the time left to live.

I met Ted while studying at Camosun College, and became the president of the Hempology 101 club. I volunteered time by designing and distributing posters, and becoming a member of the Hempology Board of Directors. With the help of Ted’s weekly Hempology meetings, I began educating myself about the many hidden benefits of cannabis/hemp.

Around this time, my 21 year old sister Ceri was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. She suffered chronic pain from the considerable surgical scarring, and serious and debilitating side effects from the brain radiation therapy and steroidal medications. These treatments failed to control her brain tumors from causing nausea, vomiting, and neurological pain so severe she was unable to even put food into her mouth or swallow. I suggested that cannabis could help with the symptoms of her treatment based on things I’d learned at Hempology 101. When all else failed, my family gave cannabis a try and helped sign my sister up for the CBC of C. Smoking small amounts of cannabis gave my sister the ability to eat, sleep, and effectively share the last few months of her life with her family.

During those last four months, she smoked cannabis to relieve her symptoms, allowing eating at restaurants with the family to be a regular occurrence. It was during this time that bonds were mended among our family, and precious moments were shared that brought us closer together. She died only one year after contracting the illness.

My parents pledged to fight cancer and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Cancer foundation through hosting dance parties, selling custom made pins, and amassing a large crowd of people to Walk for the Cure. My sister’s segment with The Daily on Shaw TV, where she shared her story and attempted to warn young people of the dangerous trend of tanning, won a media award in the Empowerment category in the Northwest Video Awards. You can watch it here

At that time I hadn’t heard of Rick Simpson, and how the concentrated cannabis oil that he called “phoenix tears” had successfully helped remove cancerous (Melanoma) tumors from moles on people’s skin. I was surprised to see a CBC news report that reflected how available cancer cures had been orphaned by drug companies because there is no profit in a cure. Rick had been asking for help from all the relevant organizations including the Cancer Society, major media companies, all government parties, and even the Prime Minister.
His attempts to hold meetings at his local Royal Canadian Legion were blocked, and he was raided by police and had his 1600 plants destroyed. Vowing to continue to give away medicine, Rick went right back to work. Boasting a 70 percent success rate, he toured North America with his film, Run from the Cure, sharing the miracles of edible and topical high-concentration cannabis oil. The RCMP raided his home a third time while he was receiving the Freedom Fighter of the Year award at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. He is currently living in exile in Europe, knowing that if he returns to Canada he will likely die in jail, and is writing a book about his experiences. Find out more information at

By this time it was too late for phoenix tears to help my sister. When Michelle Rainey passed last year, I was reminded of the deadly nature of this cancer and the many difficulties people face in attaining this medicine. The need for alternative treatments is growing, and topical cannabis oil offers a much needed avenue to explore.
Melanoma, unlike many cancers, is clearly visible on the skin. Changes in the shape, colour, or size of moles are potential indicators. Early detection is directly linked to a very high survival rate—close to 95 percent—if detected before the cancer spreads below the skin. After applying phoenix tears to a cancerous mole on his nose, Rick Simpson cured his, and others, developing tumors in just a few days.

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer suspected to be related to U.V. exposure. In Australia, where the ozone layer is depleted, the rates of Melanoma are the highest in the world. Someone will die from Melanoma every hour. Melanoma kills close to 20 Canadians a week. The most at risk are those who fair skinned, fair haired, blue eyed, and freckled, people of all ages. Unfortunately, cancer research is focused on isolating genetic links and developing immunosuppressant treatments, and not the exploration of a potential cure through the development of cannabis medicine.

As I explained in the last article (Product Development, Issue 26), the MMAR doesn’t include edible or topical oils in the access regulations. So even after waiting months for an MMAR license, negating an early detection, cancer patients aren’t able to use this treatment. These are good reasons why Canadian dispensaries should be licensed to provide edible and topical cannabis oils for those in need.

Anybody with a life threatening condition or a limited time left to live should have instant access to the miraculous, therapeutic, and cancer fighting properties of cannabis.

Please help support our efforts to make edible and topical cannabis oils readily available to those with life-threatening conditions. Visit for more info.

Owen Smith
Owen has been writing for the Cannabis Digest since 2009, covering a wide range of topics related to medical cannabis. Owen’s articles are closely related to his constitutional challenge to legalized cannabis edibles extracts and oils. He is the founder of Ethical Growth Consulting