Medical cannabis has lost one its greatest allies in Jeff Ditchfield, who sadly passed away this week. A friend of the Seedsman team, Jeff helped thousands of patients access medical cannabis via his organisation Bud Buddies, and has also been influential in propelling research into the anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids.
Jeff Ditchfield: A Cannabis Freedom Fighter
Despite not being much of a cannabis user himself during his 20s and 30s, Jeff Ditchfield discovered his calling in the year 2000 when a friend of his who suffered from multiple sclerosis was robbed at knifepoint while buying weed to treat her condition. Appalled that someone with such an illness should have to go to such dangerous lengths to obtain their medication, Jeff decided to start growing pot so that his friend could access her supply safely.
Starting with no experience, Jeff taught himself the ins and outs of cannabis cultivation, and before long he had become a vital source of safe, high-quality bud for large numbers of patients. It was at this point that he decided to open the Beggars Belief café in Rhyl, North Wales, which served as a base for the Bud Buddies medical cannabis club.
A room attached to the main café provided a members’ area where Bud Buddies members could obtain their supply, all free of charge. At a time when medical cannabis wasn’t even on the political agenda in the UK, Jeff Ditchfield provided a lifeline for huge numbers of people who came to rely on his expertise and generosity.
Never afraid to ruffle a few feathers, Jeff was often outspoken, sometimes abrasive, and always a visible presence at rallies and protests, where he could be seen handing out cannabis oil to other demonstrators and those in need. Always putting others before himself, his commitment to overhauling the injustice of prohibition regularly led him into compromising situations, yet he never flinched in his dedication to the cause.
Predictably, however, Jeff’s selflessness wasn’t appreciated by the authorities, and in 2004 he found himself on trial for cannabis possession with intent to supply. He was found not guilty after using the ‘defence of necessity’ argument, which holds that his actions were essential to the prevention of greater harm.
The Attorney General then appealed the judge’s decision, and in 2007 Jeff Ditchfield was found guilty and sentenced to 300 hours of community service. It was at this time that he decided to move the bulk of Bud Buddies’ operations to Spain, where less stringent laws enabled a little more wiggle room when it came to medical cannabis.
Jeff Ditchfield: Research Pioneer
In Spain, Jeff Ditchfield formed a partnership with a team of scientists at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, which has become renowned for its medical cannabis research. In particular, the university has produced a number of breakthrough studies regarding the anti-cancer properties of THC and other cannabinoids, and in 2015 Bud Buddies helped to finance a major research project into the efficacy of whole plant extracts for the treatment of cancer.
Meanwhile, the organisation continued to assist patients in the UK, focusing primarily on children with cancer. In 2018, Jeff was arrested once again for cannabis possession in London, but saw all charges against him dropped after he claimed that he intended to supply the medicine to the parents of terminally ill child.
Throughout, Jeff maintained that his main objective was to empower patients to find new ways to access medical cannabis without having to turn to street drugs. Teaching people to grow their own supply was therefore always high on his list of priorities, and in 2014 he published The Medical Cannabis Guidebook. Widely regarded as the definitive manual on cannabis cultivation, the book continues to enable people around the world to obtain their medication in a safe and sustainable manner.
As the cannabis community mourns the loss of a true trailblazer, it is comforting to remember that through his writing, his activism and his contributions to scientific research, Jeff Ditchfield has created a legacy that millions will benefit from for years to come.