Australian doctors must jump through the hoops if they wish to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Alternatively, their patients can buy CBD oil at their local weekend market. Robin Osborne reports…

Various countries (notably Canada, and to an extent, Portugal and Peru) and a number of major US states have either legalized or decriminalised cannabis containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that will get you ‘high’. In other places, notably the UK, sellers and buyers of low-THC cannabidiol (packaged as CBD oil) are not liable for prosecution.

Lismore psychiatrist Harry Freeman is a straight talker whose words may not please everyone, especially lawyers, doctors and politicians when it comes to discussing cannabis.
“The only objections to a sensible approach on cannabis availability and consumption come from those in positions of authority,” said Dr Freeman over a green tea in a Lismore café.
“They talk nonsense, bring nothing to the subject but prejudice and ignorance, and have done so for too many years. All this stuff about the supposed harm caused by consuming marijuana is total rubbish.”

Pictured at the Horses Helping Humans property in the Gold Coast hinterland are (l-r) Narelle van Egmond, Scottish born jockey Gina Mitchell, badly injured in a race fall, and program founder Sue Spence.

Equine therapy is becoming an increasingly popular support for young people who have experienced significant trauma, neglect or difficult life circumstances. Robin Osborne meets the ‘horse whisperer’ who helped found the program

Apart from talking horse Mr Ed, star of a 1960s sit-com, horses are not known for their conversational skills, but they are astute readers – not of books but of human emotions.

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
Joanna Nell
Hachette


The main characters of this romantic comedy set in a retirement village are 79-year-old widow Peggy Smart and her love interest the debonair Brian. Their quiet lives will be changed dramatically when Peggy’s old school friend, Angie, turns up.
The author, a Sydney GP, extracts genuine humour from everyday health issues: “Naturally, a professional man like Brian had had both his knees replaced in a private hospital under a double-barrelled surgeon. On the other hand, Peggy had gone public for hers. Her specialist had had only one surname, and she’d shared a bay with another lady who screamed all night.”  

International comparative studies put Australia near the top of OECD nations for health care systems. The 2017 Commonwealth Fund study ranked Australia second after the UK, using five parameters. We led the other countries on administrative efficiency and health care outcomes, and ranked second on “care process”.

Health has been the fastest growing sector in the economy for over 15 years, accounting for 10% of GDP and 13% of the total workforce. Despite this, government health care expenditure is only slightly above the OECD average.