Mark Rayner is part of the thriving nationwide medicinal cannabis underground which is flouting the law, daring police to lay charges.
By Alex Mann
Just one month after police raided the house of South Australian cannabis oil producer Jenny Hallam, Mr Rayner is another oil producer who has defied the threat of criminal charges and gone public with his operation.
In a secret suburban location in Adelaide, Mr Rayner showed 7.30 how he prepares the oil by mixing alcohol with cannabis and carefully separating and distilling the mix into a thick paste.
While he knows what he is doing is illegal, he said he gets around the law by simply demonstrating how to make the oil and teaching others to do it, rather than supplying it to them directly for profit.
“I’m not supplying anyone,” Mr Rayner said.
“I’m just giving them the information they need, and showing them how to do it.”
Mr Rayner, a member of the HEMP Party (Help End Marijuana Prohibition), said he had helped more than 2,000 sick people access cannabis oil over the past decade.
“I’m not a doctor,” he said.
“I’ve been called guru, shaman, stuff like that. I just help people. I’m just one human who cares for others, simple as that.”
Mr Rayner knows that bringing his work out into the open carries a huge risk.
“It will definitely draw some attention,” he said.
‘We try and heal people, they raid our homes’
Since police raided Jenny Hallam’s property in January she has become a fierce advocate for people’s rights to take their own medicine, even if it means breaking the law.
“We are sick and tired of being treated like criminals, for doing something to try and save our lives,” she said at a recent rally outside Parliament House in Canberra.
“And even worse, when we try and heal people, they come and raid our homes, they take our medicine, and they treat us like pieces of shit.”
Like Mr Rayner, Ms Hallam had produced cannabis oil for sick people around Australia. She believes she can get around the law by using donated cannabis, and not charging her clients for the oil she provides.
While South Australian Police are yet to lay charges, Ms Hallam blames the Federal Government for pushing her industry underground.
“I’m concerned for the other producers out there that they will be targeted just like I was.”
Using medicinal cannabis still illegal in Australia
Oil producers and their clients operate in a confusing regulatory environment.
Late last year, the Federal Government legalised the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis for medicinal purposes under strict conditions.
But using medicinal cannabis is still illegal in Australia, and only available through trials and limited special-access schemes which vary from state to state.
Right now, there is no legal domestic supply to dispense to potential patients.
In South Australia they are trying to close down the backyard operations by turning medicinal cannabis into a legitimate business.
But the businesses poised to enter that market say they can not get approvals.
Even if they could, with few doctors allowed to prescribe it they would have no one to sell it to.
State Industry Minister Kyam Maher is desperate to streamline the process.
“We’ve started the conversation now with the Federal Government about ways to make sure it’s as easy as it can be. It necessarily needs to be regulated. These are schedule eight drugs that we’re talking about,” he said.
Despite the delays, Mr Maher warned backyard production was not the answer.
“The backyard production of any sort of drug is illegal. There is now a pathway for prescription in Australia, in terms of the manufacturing, there is an ability to do that, but it is very new and there are some things that I think need to be sorted out and streamlined.
“But it is against the law to take matters into your own hands and manufacture it and I’d recommend anyone not to do that.”