Olivia Newton-John says weed gets a bad rap
Olivia Newton-John believes her trip to Canberra to promote medicinal cannabis may have helped the herb's legalisation in the nation's capital.
"It's all my doing!," the singer joked.
"In all seriousness I hope we played some part in it. We talked to the politicians about how the public are really wanting this change. At the moment it's supposed to be legal and doctors can prescribe it but it's still difficult to get.
"I speak to a lot of people (in Australia) about it, they approach me because they know I'm using it for my health. They tell me 'We need it, we want it, thank you'. I met a nurse in Byron Bay who said they desperately need cannabis for their patients in the hospital. I know I'm on the right track.
"People who have done their research, and there's thousands of studies on it now, understand the importance of cannabis to our health. I can see the change already, you can get it in Canberra now, that's a pretty good start I reckon."
Newton-John was introduced to cannabis by her husband John Easterling, an expert in plant medicine.
After breaking her sacrum, Newton-John, who announced her third bout of cancer in 2017, used cannabis oil to wean off the morphine she had been prescribed for her intense pain.
"It was instant," she said. "I felt a big change in my mobility and pain relief. It got me off morphine, which is a huge deal. I was determined not to stay on that, but a lot of people have a lot of trouble getting off it. But I believe if they were helped with cannabis they'd find something to relieve the pain that wasn't going to kill them. Cannabis is not an addiction for me, I can take it or leave it, but I need it."
The singer has spent the last year using her fame to get politicians - including Prime Minister Scott Morrison - to listen to cannabis' medical benefits.
"I don't usually get involved in politics, but this is very important because I've lived it. I've experienced it. I'm not trying to sell something, I'm trying to help people get access to something that can help them. When I was younger I used to question celebrities getting involved in things like this, but when it's something you're passionate about and you think you can help people by explaining it then I think it's a positive thing."
Newton-John said the herb has had an unfair stigma attached to it for too long.
"Cannabis is a plant that has been with us for thousands of years. It's a natural healing plant. Most of our medicinal therapeutic drugs are from plants. It helped me on my cancer journey so incredibly, I wasn't a cannabis user before that. A lot of people use it to self-medicate when they're under stress or anxiety. That's why so many young people are are using cannabis because they're so stressed out because of our environment and our politics."
A long time environmentalist, Newton-John said she was shocked at the thought of anyone denying climate change.
"Whether we created it or whether it's just the earth, it's a reality that our climate is changing. Hot places are cold, dry places are wet, wet places are dry. Species are dying. It's scary for our kids, I feel really concerned for the younger generation. No wonder they're all stressed out. We all need to wake up.
"As a society we're so lucky, but we have all these disposable things we use which we take for granted but they're polluting the planet. We have to find ways of transforming the use of plastics that are dangerous for our environment, we have to stop spraying these horrible things on our food, there are natural products they can use that might be harder for the farmer but won't poison the crops. Emissions, all these things, they're obviously happening, you can't avoid it. In America there's been so many huge storms and fires..."
The singer also praised teenager Greta Thunberg for speaking up about climate change.
"She's incredible, what an amazing young girl, so brave. She's standing up for the youth. And everybody who tries to do something good gets some backlash. She's just doing what she feels she needs to do, hats off to her."
Newton-John celebrated her 71 birthday last month at her Gaia retreat in Byron Bay, having a barbeque surrounded by her "Aussie mates."
"I'm here, I'm enjoying my life, I'm alive. How can you not be grateful for that? I had a few experiences where I didn't know I'd be OK, even though I believed I would, there's no guarantees. There's no guarantees I won't walk outside and a coconut will fall on my head. You never know in life. So you just have to be grateful for every moment and I have lots to be grateful for. You have more of an appreciation of life when you've been closer to the alternative."
She says her health is improving, and her tumours are shrinking - which she puts down to cannabis use, herbal supplements and anti estrogen treatment.
"My markers, the cancer cells they measure, they're going down. Visually, I can see one of them (the tumours) and I can see that it's gone down. I feel good. Considering a magazine said I was almost dead at the start of the year I'm Lazarus! I've come back to life!"
She does not use terms like 'battle' or 'war' or even 'remission' when discussing her cancer.
"If you think of it as a battle, that creates that anxiety where you're fighting this thing inside me. It is in me, it is going, I'm asking it to leave, I don't want it to be there anymore. I feed my body with all the things that I hope will help. I don't want to create that scary imaging in my mind. It's leaving, it's going, I'm very happy."
Newton-John has put her music career on hold to raise money for her Cancer and Wellness Centre. She will auction her iconic leather jacket and pants from the movie Grease in LA in early November.
"I don't want to put a limit on it, I want it to be in the millions, high millions," she said of what she wants the garments to sell for. "It all benefits the Wellness Centre."
After being admitted to her own Centre last year after her annual Wellness Walk and Research Run, after her sacrum injury flared up, Newton-John has returned this year with daughter Chloe Lattanzi along for support.
This year's event takes place on Sunday at a new venue, Alexandra Gardens.
"It was my goal this year to be well enough to walk. Last year was rough. So I want to walk, I don't know how much of it I'll be able walk, but that's my goal."
Register for the Wellness Walk and Research Run at wellnesswalkresearchrun.com.au