Deborah Lynch, vilified in the press as the ‘canna nanna’ or ‘ganja granny’, was just a regular person from Burleigh Waters until being forced into cannabis legalisation activism through her brushes with the tangled web of the medical industry and the infinite wisdom of our police forces.
This week she has faced down both judge and the electorate as accused and potential member of parliament. One saw her charged with producing a dangerous drug, possessing a dangerous drug, possession of equipment for the production of dangerous drugs, and whole list of other offenses. The second sees her stand as a candidate for the Mermaid Beach seat in today’s Queensland election for the Legalise Cannabis Queensland Party.
As of last night, Deb reported to us via Facebook that the outcome of the trial has been reserved until November 10th. The magistrate is set to review the evidence and the case law surrounding Deb’s defense and legal argument. In an interview with Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Deb said that she has been fighting “tooth and nail” for the rights of medical cannabis users, the vast majority of whom access their medication outside of the beurocratic and often confusing medical access scheme. She stated that this is for everyone, as well as herself.
From patient to persecuted
Deb started using cannabis medicinally back in the 80s after suffering a spinal injury. She was in her late 20s and had never used the drug previously. Not only did it alleviate the pain she was feeling, she was able to sleep better, regained her appetite, and wean herself off of the cocktail of drugs her physicians had placed her on.
The use of medical cannabis for long term pain conditions is becoming increasingly accepted as a treatment method. It has been shown to be more effective and far less addictive than strong opioids like OxyContin which have been over-prescribed in the US leading to skyrocketing rates of addiction. Recent reports suggest the use of medical cannabis is becoming increasingly common amongst the over 60s.
In 2013, Deb was diagnosed with a serious and progressive autoimmune disease with no known cure and given 15 years to live. She doubled down on the cannabis as a treatment option after running through the traditionally available options and found that powerful cannabis oil proved far more effective than anything she was prescribed.
After struggling to get a prescription for an effective form of cannabis oil in the concentration and price she needed, she began making it at home herself. In 2017, the police entered her home on an unrelated matter and discovered her operations. They confiscated thousands of dollars worth of medicine that Deb had prepped for the months ahead, causing her into withdrawal and ultimately worsening her condition which resulted in her needing to have her leg amputated.
She decided, against legal advice, to pursue a verdict of ‘not guilty’. Her stand in court is a landmark case for medical cannabis users everywhere which may set precedent for the rights of patients to treat their own conditions in ways they see fit.
On Thursday, the big day finally arrived. “It’s all quite surreal”, Deb told us, “after 1228 days, multiple magistrates court hearings, district and appeals court hearings, my case is finally going to trial”.
“I’m not confident of a not-guilty verdict, however, my barristers have assured me that, even if found guilty, they will appeal all the way to the high court if necessary”.
Taking the fight to the Government
She hardly has time to face the judge on Thursday and deal with the whole business of potentially spending the final years of her life in jail. Oh no, Deb has bigger plans, as she stands as the candidate for Mermaid Beach as Vice President of the newly founded Legalise Cannabis Queensland Party in the QLD elections today.
Although she is happy she has been able to stand and pursue her fight, she does lament the fact that the trial has taken her away from campaigning for her seat and the rights of cannabis users.
“I’m kinda like, you know what? You’re not getting away with this”.
Deb tells us that she never wanted any of this but she’s not one to take injustice lying down. Instead, it only made sense to her to take the fight to the government.
“This disease I have from diagnosis to death is usually 15 years. I’ve been doing this for six already”. Deb says that she would much rather spend her “final years” with her family and grandchildren than “having to fight the government to change the law”.
“I want to chill in my garden! I want to go fishing! I’ve got a fishing rod holder on my power wheelchair and I haven’t even been able to use it yet!”
Even though they stand little chance of winning any seats, just having the phrase ‘legalise cannabis Queensland’ on ballots up and down the state is enough of a victory for herself and the party, many of whose candidates are seniors like herself. Whatever the outcome today, Deb’s efforts have inspired thousands of medical cannabis users that their rights are worth fighting for.