Olivia Newton-John, the Grammy Award-winning singer, died this week at 73 years old after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. While she was known as one of the stars of Grease, the Australian singer/actress was also a medical cannabis advocate.
And her use of medical cannabis may have extended his life. Diagnosed in 1992, Olivia battled breast cancer for over 30 years.
Olivia Newton-John: Medical Cannabis Advocate
In a Facebook message, Olivia Newton-John’s husband said she “passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California,” surrounded by family and friends.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years, sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer,” the post states. It also asks that interested fans send the foundation a donation in place of flowers.
In a September 2018 interview with High Times, Olivia Newton-John said she was consuming cannabis as part of her treatment. She called it a “magical, miracle plant.”
“My husband’s a plant medicine man so he grew cannabis and made tinctures for me for pain and inflammation,” she said. “The pain was the hardest thing. I can walk, but I can’t go long distances.”
Medical cannabis, she says, “helped me a lot with pain because I don’t like taking prescription drugs.”
“I really believe the cannabis has made a huge difference,” she told 60 Minutes Australia in 2019. “If I don’t take the drops, I can feel the pain, so I know it’s working.”
“People have this vision from the ’60s of people just sitting around and getting stoned. It’s not about that. This plant is a healing plant. I think we need to change the vision of what it is because it helped me greatly and it helps with pain and inflammation.”
“I’m totally off painkillers, I’m totally off morphine, and I attribute that to the cannabis because it was able to take over with the pain,” she told You Magazine in March 2021.
The late singer and actress also called cannabis “kind and compassionate.” “It’s what should be available for everybody to use,” she said.
The Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre
Olivia Newton-John’s experience with medical cannabis led her to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre in Melbourne in 2012.
“I have seen the incredible beauty of the plants and their healing abilities… if I hadn’t had that experience, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you about kinder therapies… your body wants to heal itself,” she once told the Daily Mail.
“That’s why I’m excited to start this foundation.”
Olivia Newton-John spent years lobbying the Australian government to legalize medical cannabis. Politicians legalized medical cannabis in 2016, but not without restrictive rules and regulations many patients criticize as overly bureaucratic.
30 Years Battling Cancer
Olivia Newton-John’s cancer resurfaced in 2017, a third time since her original diagnosis in 1992. But, as she told the media:
“When you’re given a cancer diagnosis or a scary honest diagnosis, you’re suddenly given a possibility of a time limit. If somebody tells you, ‘You have six months to live,’ very possibly you will because you believe that. So for me, psychologically, it’s better not to have any idea of what they expect or what the last person that has what you have lived, so I don’t, I don’t tune in.”
Staying positive certainly helps. But so does medical cannabis. While Newton-John used it to ease her symptoms, research shows cannabis also has anti-tumour properties.
As well, several studies suggest cannabinoid therapy reduces breast cancer cell proliferation.
Unfortunately, cannabis’s anti-cancer properties weren’t enough to save Olivia Newton-John. Things might have been different if she had started cannabinoid treatment with her first diagnosis in the early 90s.
But we at least have her repertoire of songs and performances. And through her celebrity, she was able to promote cannabis-based medicines and therapy.
Without Olivia Newton-John’s intense lobbying efforts, would the illiberal Australian government have ever legalized medical cannabis?
Rest in peace, Olivia Newton-John. Medical cannabis advocate.