Medicinal cannabis the right oil for Ellie the Staffy, her owner believes

July 13 2016 – 3:15PM
Lisa Wachsmuth

Paul Lawrence with his 15-year-old staffy Ellie who he claims has benefited from a daily dose of cannabis oil.
Ellie, a 15-year-old Staffy, has a new spring in her step, which her owner believes is thanks to a daily dose of medicinal cannabis oil under her tongue, although vets advise against the practice.

Old age had started to catch up with Ellie, the faithful companion of Wollongong resident Paul Lawrence.

Paul Lawrence with his 15-year-old staffy Ellie who he claims has benefited from a daily dose of cannabis oil.
Paul Lawrence with his 15-year-old staffy Ellie who he claims has benefited from a daily dose of cannabis oil. Photo: Sylvia Liber
She was suffering from arthritis and glaucoma, had lost her appetite and was experiencing fitful sleep.

For Mr Lawrence, a cancer survivor who two years ago ditched legal painkillers in preference of medicinal cannabis, the remedy was obvious.

“My friends were sceptical but the results were clear. Ellie had been hobbling around, not eating or sleeping, but after starting her on cannabis oil 12 months ago she was back running up and down the backyard, her appetite had returned and she was sleeping much better.”

Mr Lawrence said the oil he administers to his beloved pet did not contain the psycho-active compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), yet did retain cannabidiol (CBD) which he believed had therapeutic benefits.


This month NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward announced that, in an Australian first, children with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy would be provided with compassionate access to a cannabis-based medicine made of pure CBD.

In announcing the scheme at Sydney Children’s Hospital on July 5, Ms Goward said the government recognised the potential of such medicines, particularly for people who had exhausted conventional treatment options.

“We have embarked on an ambitious research program to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids for patients suffering from a range of debilitating conditions,” Ms Goward said.

Legal access to medicinal cannabis can not come quick enough for Mr Lawrence.

Diagnosed with a rare spinal tumour in 2010; he had three vertabrae removed during a 43-hour operation. Five of his ribs, a leg bone and 60 pieces of titanium were used to rebuild his spine.

Legal painkillers did not curb his chronic pain and caused serious side effects.

“What I’m doing to treat myself for ongoing pain – and my dog – is legal in several countries around the world, but not Australia,” he said.

“We don’t need more research, more trials – we need action. It’s great medicinal cannabis is being made available for some kids with severe epilepsy but I don’t see much compassion when terminally ill patients and others in chronic pain are not allowed access. It’s not about smoking pot and getting stoned – it’s about ingesting it to get some pain relief.”

In the US, doggie treats containing cannabis compounds are marketed to owners of ailing and elderly animals as pain relievers.

However it’s important to note that the Australian Veterinary Association does not recommend the administration of cannabis oil to dogs.

“Anyone who is concerned about their older pet should contact their local veterinarian to discuss the best management plan,” AVA member Paula Parker said.

Specifically Dr Parker warned against the use of products containing THC, which she said would be dangerous for pets.

“THC causes a neurological depressant effect in dogs similar to people,” she said.

“Owing to their smaller body size, this can lead to dangerous levels of depression of heart and lung function, especially where the compound has been concentrated in oil or butter form.

“Anyone who suspects their pet may have ingested THC in any form should contact their local veterinarian.”


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