Jeff Ditchfield is someone who you might call a “legend” in the world of cannabis. He is the founder of Bud Buddies, a not-for-profit organization started in the UK in 2002 with a mission to assist, empower and educate people about the medical properties of cannabis. Bud Buddies also helps patients grow and obtain cannabis, as well as teaching them how to safely make medicinal extracts from the marijuana plant. Of course, as cannabis is illegal in the UK, what Jeff does could potentially land him in prison – if the courts can identify a victim to this supposed crime, that is!
Bud Buddies has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of patients since their inception. Jeff also started Project Storm, and made a film following 6 cancer patients on their journey into the world of medical cannabis. He also helped out Callie and Deryn Blackwell when they were desperate to find a trustworthy source of cannabinoids to treat Deryn’s cancer and leukemia. With his help, Deryn’s life was saved when his cancer miraculously went into remission Jeff works alongside Dr. Guillermo Velasco, Dr. Manuel Guzmán and Dr. Cristina Sanchez, who are researching the anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects of cannabinoids at the University of Madrid and have found that cannabinoids can selectively induce apoptosis in tumorous cells. Their work is amazing, and has perhaps given us a better understanding of cancer and how to best treat it.
Jeff’s list of achievements doesn’t stop there, however. He also founded one of the UK’s first Amsterdam-style coffeeshop, which went by the name of ‘Beggars Belief’ and operated out of Rhyl, a small town in North Wales. Inspired by the coffeeshop ‘The Dutch Experience’, Jeff decided to start his own coffeeshop, as well as Bud Buddies, in order to give people like his friend who was suffering from MS safe access to cannabis. As his underground reputation grew, so did the amount of requests from desperate people seeking cannabis-derived medicine. Before long, he would be overwhelmed by patients asking for help and information, and it’s perhaps not surprising that cannabis advocacy has taken over most of his life.
Jeff and Bud Buddies almost seems like a throwback to the cannabis advocacy groups of old in California and the rest of the US. Direct action, grassroots activism and a dedication to helping people suffering from some of the most difficult-to-treat medical conditions around. When you have easy access to dispensaries and the ability to get recommendation letters from physicians, it is easy to forget that much of the rest of the world still has to get their medication on the black market, with all the associated risks.
Jeff has even helped set a precedent in UK law, for a small amount of time at least, where he argued a defense of necessity after being caught in possession with a small amount of cannabis and cannabis resin in his car, as he was aiding sick people in pain. This lead to the jury unanimously accepting his argument, leading to a “Not Guilty” verdict. The law was changed thereafter, the defense of necessity can no longer be used with regards to cannabis possession, and Jeff was warned by the court that his verdict was not a sign of approval.
Undeterred by the law, Jeff has carried on and is still fighting to get medical cannabis legalized in the UK, and he will continue to help those in need of medical cannabis learn how to source and grow their own medicine. Eventually, we are hoping that people like Jeff and the patients he helps will not be arrested and charged for the growth, use and possession of cannabis, wherever they are in the world. People like Jeff and organizations like Bud Buddies are the pioneers will make this happen.