BY ADAM CAILLER
MY introduction to 58-year-old Yehuda Haber was not your classic handshake and hello.
The former member of the IDF’s underwater unit was about to have a seizure, he informed me, so needed to take medication.
But this was not any typical medication. It was cannabis oil capsules — known as Cannabidiol or CBD.
And within seconds it was as if nothing had happened and there never was an oncoming seizure.
Yehuda, who was in Manchester as part of a delegation of Israeli disabled former soldiers, first discovered that he had a cancerous brain tumour in 1999.
His doctors reassured him that it wasn’t serious, but 16 years later it had “flipped” into something more serious, known as an anaphylactic oligendergaloma.
He recalled: “I was given five years to live, maximum. Some of us might react in a different way, but I was lucky.
“I heard about this Canadian guy called Rick Simpson (one of the first advocates of cannabis oil and the man who allegedly discovered its anti-cancer properties).
“When my tumour shifted in 2015, my wife asked the doctor two crazy questions: what my chances of survival were — I was told 40 per cent — and whether or not if I survived treatment, I would be cured.
“They told me I would maybe have another year to live, depending on how treatment went.”
Yehuda’s doctor saw the cogs turning in his head. He would not accept the diagnosis.
He was told that if he wanted to do anything else, then he should tell the doctor.
“So I told him that I was going to take Rick Simpson Oil (a form of cannabis oil).
“I started radiation and chemotherapy at the same time — I gave up the chemo after three weeks, but I’m a bit crazy, so wouldn’t recommend that to everyone.
“I was using this cannabis oil at the same time.”
Yehuda was able to obtain the oil legally as he had a licence to do so for medical reasons.
In Israel, the use of cannabis oil is legal as long as you have a licence — and it only costs around £60 per prescription, regardless of the amount purchased.
He added: “One of the bonuses of this tumour was seizures, up to three times a day.
“No matter what medication I was given, they couldn’t stop them — I was resistant to the medication.
“One of my doctors told me that he was an admirer of cannabis oil and told me about a different form called CBD (which has no psychoactive, or ‘high’ effects normally associated with cannabis).
“There was research at Tel Aviv University which proved that it really worked, and is even permitted for children in Israel.
“I smoked three to five grammes per day, alongside drinking cold water. You have to smoke a lot, but it helps.”
Taking CBD, Yehuda points out, does not make a person high. He describes it as if you are not even aware you’re taking anything, due to not having any side effects at all — apart from stopping the seizures.
But Yehuda’s story took an incredible turn.
Two years later, after being shown how to take his own MRI scans by the doctor, his tumour had increased.
He recalled: “I put the images onto my computer and I said ‘oy vey’.
“My doctor looked at the images and didn’t know what to say!
“It took him a full day to process what he had seen, he was in shock. I told him that I knew what I saw.”
Yehuda decided to switch his medication to Tetrahydrocannabinol. This is commonly associated with the mind-altering side of the drug and Yehuda was told to take as much of is as he could get.
“It’s a really tough treatment,” he recalled. “You get high after two hours, just from one drop, three times a day.
“My muscles felt heavy and I just wanted to sleep all the time — I told my family that I was happy to sleep for a year as long as it cured me!”
Yehuda’s last scan was three weeks ago . . . he is now cancer free. And he puts this entirely down to the cannabis oil.
He said: “It’s lifesaving.”
Cannabis oil has been in the headlines this week after Charlotte Caldwell, who has been treating her severely epileptic son Billy, 12, with it since 2016, managed to get emergency approval from the Home Office to allow her son to take the pills once more.
His most recent supply was confiscated at Heathrow Airport, but it was returned to him after doctors made clear it was a “medical emergency”.
She is now campaigning to have it legalised.
Yehuda added: “There are several cases of others being cured. I know this for sure, including a rabbi from Bnei Brak.
“He called me saying it was too difficult for him to take it as he just wanted to sleep, but he had to teach in the Kollel.
“I told him to decide what was more important, his life or teaching. He chose his life and he is now fully cured.”
The Israeli veterans visited Manchester King David School, Broughton House, the Lake District, Liverpool’s Princes Road Synagogue and the Beatles Museum.
They rounded off the visit with a barbecue at the Liverpool home of Shelli and Greg Abrams.