Callie Blackwell ‘The Cannabis Activist’ Interview
Interviewed by Rhiannon Smith – Hemp & CBD Media
Callie Blackwell is an advocate for a healthier and more holistic lifestyle as a means to prevent many diseases, including Cancer.
When Callie’s eldest son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2010 and then with a rarer, more aggressive cancer, Langerhans Cell Sarcoma only 18 months later, she embarked on a long, steep learning curve. Since then, an eight year journey through the complexities of paediatric chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplants to diet, nutrition, herbal and holistic medicine has brought her to realise that the body has the ability to heal itself if given the right nutrition and care.
Tell us about your background and how you’ve ended up becoming a cannabis activist?
I grew up in a small Norfolk town where everyone knew everyone and had very little to do. I left high school in 1996 and got married in 1997. In 1999 I had my first son, Deryn. In 2004, I was married for a second time and had my second son, Dylan.
During my adult life I worked in a slaughterhouse, as a domiciliary care worker, as a reservist in the British Army (as a Combat Medical Technician) and for many years as a bouncer.
I started my own business in July 2010.
Unfortunately, the new business venture was short lived as Deryn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia on the first day of trading.
This led to how I became one of the UK’s well known Cannabis Activists.
After receiving such a tragic blow, we embarked on a 4 year journey to hell and back.
In 2012, Deryn was diagnosed again with a much rarer and more aggressive cancer – Langerhans Cell Sarcoma in his tonsils.
Unfortunately Deryn’s journey with Cancer was far from straight forward and it ended with Deryn having four bone marrow transplants in 10 months. Each one failing.
In December 2013, Deryn was moved to an end of life hospice with three days to live after ALL conventional treatment had apparently failed.
Once we we there, I chose to give Deryn Cannabis and he didn’t die.
Deemed a miracle by the medical professionals, I found myself being contacted by people who wanted the same ‘miracle’ as myself. It was totally by accident that I found myself now being so well known for assisting people with illegal cannabis oil.
I feel that I have a duty to tell as many people that will listen about the healing benefits of Cannabis and I spend every day trying to educate and broaden the minds of those who are only just finding out about Cannabis and what it is capable of.
I have found myself being asked to speak on behalf of many who can’t speak out for fear of their children being taken in to care by social services if they are discovered to be treating their loved ones with Cannabis.
I can’t help but fight for justice. I think I was born to be an activist.
You recently wrote your book, The Boy in 7 Billion. How has it’s publication effected your role in the industry and what are your hopes for it’s success? Do you have plans to publish more books?
The release of my book back in April 2017 changed my role in the movement dramatically.
Before I published my book, I was very much helping people behind the scenes.
I hadn’t told anyone publicly that I gave Deryn Cannabis and the profound effect it had had. Most people still believed Deryn’s recovery to be a miracle.
This in itself was because I too was still too scared to announce what I had administered as Deryn was still a child and the real threat of Social Services loomed over me.
I decided the write my book as a way to get the story across without misrepresentation. The media have a habit of misinformation and I knew that I had to get the WHOLE story out in my own words before coming out about what I had done.
I couldn’t keep Cannabis a secret any longer as I knew that my coming out could possibly help thousands more people than me staying quiet.
I have had hundreds of messages since releasing my book, the majority tell me just how much hope I have given them. How they now use Cannabis to help themselves and how they too now have their own success stories – because of my honesty and willingness to put my neck on the line.
That in itself is success.
If my book could have helped just one person, that would be a success but to know just how many lives have been positively effected, it’s truly humbling.
Get asked a lot if I’m going to write another book. I would love to but the problem is that when I wrote my first book, I had the luxury of not being well known and so I had the time to spend writing every day.
Time is not a luxury I have any longer. My days are too taken up helping people and for me, that is a better use of my time. For now. Who knows what the future will hold for me.
But I would love to write again one day.
You recently moved OUT OF THE UK. How is that going for you and what was the reason behind this move?
Moving away from the UK was a very hard decision but one that I felt I had very little choice over. I was struggling to work full time, see my children AND help the hundreds of people who needed my attention every week.
I was working 9am -5pm, getting home at 6pm, going straight to emails and not going to bed until 4am. Up again at 7am to start all over again. My weekends were taken up by trying to see my children and attending events.
I couldn’t cope any longer, something had to give before I had another nervous breakdown and I knew that I could never stop helping those who came to me so work had to go.
I am very fortunate to have people in my life who do their best to look after me and help me. My boyfriend offered to support me for a while until I could get on my feet and regain some balance in my life.
I took him up on his very generous offer and I’ve been here a few months now.
Now the time I get with my children is all about them and they no longer have to play second fiddle to my activism.
The law played a part in my decision too, the country I have moved to is a little more relaxed on Cannabis. CBD flowers with THC under 1% are sold widely here and smelling Cannabis in the street is quite normal and acceptable.
Your opinion on the rise of CBD in the UK and whether you think it will help the public warm to cannabis overall as a medicinal answer?
I am very pleased to see a rise in alternative medicines as a whole. CBD being the most acceptable now which is amazing to witness. I worked for CBD Brothers for 18 months and to be truthful, I was sceptical about CBD.
I had always thought that you MUST have THC as well as CBD to make the medicine effective.
THIS is still my opinion BUT I now understand that even a very small amount of THC allows the medicine to be far more effective. The entourage effect is vital and why I urge people to only acquire whole plant extract and not CBD isolate suspended in a carrier oil.
The results I saw from customers who were taking the products I so proudly made were incredible! Stories that I never thought I’d hear from just a legal CBD product.
Working for a CBD company really changed my mind about the powers of high strength CBD when accompanied by small amounts of the other cannabinoids.
I definitely think that the rise in CBD products and availability in the UK with help the public warm to cannabis as a medicine overall.
I had been carefully watching public opinion on Cannabis as medicine before I published my book, to me timing was imperative.
When my book came out and I went on This Morning to talk about my experience, the majority of the public hadn’t really heard of Cannabis as a medicine, let alone accepted that it was OK to give a child.
I have been slowly watching public opinion sway in favour of Cannabis ever since.
I am now seeing more and more people who initially were just in favour of CBD oil (because it is legal) now understanding just how important THC is.
The legality played a huge part in it’s use, many people who understood that THC was also necessary, wouldn’t go near it but would happily take CBD oil.
I see the tides changing though and I’m finding more and more who are willing to break the law every day.
This is awesome.
Your opinion on the recent updates to cannabis laws in the UK and the direction its moving in?
The recent changes to the law in the UK surrounding Cannabis are nothing but a an attempt to placate the citizens of the UK whilst slowly putting together policies to ensure that those in power personally profit from its prohibition.
Because of stories such as my own, my friend Hannah Deacon, mum of Alfie Dingley and Countries around the world legalising left, right and centre… people of the UK have come to understand that Cannabis is medicine that actually works and we should all have equal access to it.
People have started to come out about the benefits they have found from Cannabis and the government can no longer lie to us about it’s properties.
With Theresa May’s husband being the largest investor of GW pharmaceuticals and Drugs minister Victoria Atkins husband owning the land on which GW grow 22 tonnes of ‘Skunk’ every year, they had to give the public something.
Cannabis has been available on prescription for about 12 years, in the form of Sativex. A preparation made from 1g of a 1:1 full extract cannabis oil, suspended in alcohol.
Since this drug is in schedule 4, you’d think that access would be no problem. Except there are only two NHS Trusts that Sativex is available free on prescription – Chelsea and Westminster and another in Oxfordshire.
All other NHS trusts simply can’t afford up to £500 a bottle that GW charge them. If you go private, you can of course have unlimited access to Sativex, so long as you pay.
The new law means nothing for people who need Cannabis as medicine. Many who have been approved STILL don’t have access and those who have been granted access, many have found that Epidiolex (the CBD based GW Pharmaceutical drug) loses its efficacy early on.
Honestly, I don’t like the way it’s all heading because with legalisation comes more restrictions, more laws and less of what the people actually need.
I think that Cannabis activists from around the world need to ensure that we all know what it is we’re asking for and ensure that we do not stop until we get exactly what it is we want. NO half measures.
What Innovations / developments in our industry would you like to see? (now and in the future)
Honestly, I don’t think about this. I see so many great things happening surrounding cannabis from some incredibly skilled craftsmen and innovators that I doubt I could think of anything that hasn’t already been done.
What I want to see now and in the future is integrity and honesty.
That is something that isn’t in abundance in this industry.
Is there a model of another country / US state that you feel you’d like the UK to adopt?
No. I think they had a great idea that was unfortunately hijacked by the government.
On the outside it looks great in the US and Canada but actually when you dig deeper and talk to activists from these countries, they are deeply upset with the way things are going there.
Any country that allows me to grow as many Cannabis plants as I wish, to consume in any way I wish is a country I with to emulate.
I do love the Barcelona Social Clubs though. I’d love to see them popping up all over the UK.
What are your hopes or expectations for the Hemp & CBD Expo and do you see events like this helping the industry?
I’d like to see a huge turn out of people who have never thought about consuming Cannabis in any way before. I’d like to see many people attending because they wish to be educated.
I also hope that this event goes a long way to educate people with a vast array of accurate and helpful information.
If done correctly, and I have a very good feeling that the guys behind this event have done a sterling job, this event could spark a huge surge in CBD becoming even more accepted than before.
Showcasing what is available can’t be anything but positive for the industry.
If there’s one message you’d like to convey to parents who might find themselves in a similar situation to what you experienced what would it be?
As soon as you find out about Cannabis, do it. Please.
Those who thrive the most are the ones who have started Cannabis at the beginning, the ones who change their diet and lifestyle and those who are willing to commit to Cannabis for the rest of their lives which means growing it and becoming self sufficient.
It’s always my aim when I help anyone who comes to me, to have them growing for themselves as soon as they can.
I’m happy to talk to anyone who wishes to know any more about anything I have said in this interview and I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to say so much about the plant I am so passionate about.
xxx Callie xxx