Australian Grandfather Donates $40million to Cannabis Research

Hero Australian Grandfather takes CBD oil on national TV after donating millions to cannabis research to save granddaughter.


  • Barry and Joy Lambert donated nearly $40 million to cannabis research program at Sydney University
  • Their granddaughter, Katelyn, suffers from a rare and serious form of epilepsy, Dravet’s Syndrome
  • The donations have help set up The Lambert Initiatives at to the University of Sydney and The Thomas Jefferson University (USA) to explore the potential of cannabinoids in treating a range of diseases.
  • Barry took CBD oil on Australia’s Weekend Sunrise program to highlight how safe the medicine is
  • “This is a crime against humanity and something has got to be done about it”

What would you do if your granddaughter was suffering from thousands of epileptic seizures a day?

In the first of our HERO series, we saw an Irish mother walk 260km to help her epileptic daughter. This week we turn out attention to an Australian businessman who has donated nearly $40 million to research the medicinal potential of cannabis.

Barry Lambert, an Australian businessman, worth a reported £350 million, was faced with an impossible question: let his granddaughter suffer unimaginable pain, and potentially die, or, break an unjust law. Hero’s like Barry will always choose the latter.

Katelyn Lambert, Barry’s 5-year-old granddaughter, was suffering from up to 1,400 seizures a day. Katelyn’s seizures were relentless, despite taking a cocktail of pharmaceutical medications, including clonazepam, a depressant similar to valium. At one point, her doctors had to drill a large dose of the drug into the girl’s bones. If this had continued, there was a serious risk there could have been permanent damage to the young girl’s brain and mental functions.

This was before Katelyn’s father, Michael, came across CNN’s 2013 documentary on medicinal cannabis, Weed. After learning about Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis strain named after Charlotte Figi, a young girl who also suffers from Dravet’s Syndrome and famous for its high levels of CBD and low levels of THC (the cannabinoid which gets you high), the desperate father finally decided to turn to cannabis to try and save his daughter from a life of unimaginable pain and suffering.

Barry Lambert, the millionaire philanthropist in a field of industrial cannabis near hunter valley

Barry Lambert, the millionaire philanthropist in a field of industrial cannabis near hunter valley

The family began to see improvement immediately. Katelyn’s seizures became less frequent and less severe. She was able to start speaking again, and was finally able to return to preschool. After seeing the success that medical cannabis was having on his granddaughter, Barry decided he had to do something. Not just to help his granddaughter, but to help all those suffering from symptoms treatable by cannabis. Mr Lambert, and his wife Joy, donated $33.7 million to cannabis research at Sydney University establishing ‘The Lambert Initiative’, which ‘will explore the potential of compounds derived from the cannabis plant (cannabinoids) in treating a range of diseases.’ Speaking to the Australian Financial Review about his motivation for the donation, Barry said: “It’s about doing the right thing. There are all these uses for cannabis but, because it’s illegal, it’s never been researched.”

Barry Lambert, the millionaire philanthropist in a field of industrial cannabis near hunter valley

Michael, Barry’s son with life-saving CBD oil

However, after several years of The Lamberts became increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress that their donation, and the University’s research, was making, due to the extremely regressive laws concerning cannabis research in Australia. The Australian Government only recently took the unprecedented step of legalising the import of medical marijuana from overseas to help meet its supply shortage. Prescriptions are still on a case-by-case basis, making it difficult for patients to access the medicine of their choice, and more importantly, of their needs. Taking his plight to the national platform, Barry appeared on Australia’s Weekend Sunrise to make the case for cannabis research. The philanthropist used his moment in the spotlight to not only speak about his granddaughter’s open letter to the Australian PM and Premier but also to take cannabis, live on TV.

Watch Barry’s appearance on Weekend Sunrise:

Speaking about the lack of access to medical cannabis, Barry told the presenters that: “This is a crime against humanity and something has got to be done about it.”

Moments later, he ingested a drop of CBD-rich cannabis oil (not hemp oil), live on national TV, to demonstrate just how safe CBD is. Lambert told Weekend Sunrise, an Australian talk show, that since Katelyn started taking CBD oil to treat her Dravet’s Syndrome she hasn’t had a seizure, or been in hospital, for 18 months. In total, since Katelyn started her cannabis-based treatment, her hospital attendance is down an amazing 89%.

For a young girl who was suffering up to 1.400 seizures a day, this treatment could be life saving. So why won’t the Australian Government step up to their responsibility? He continued: “All we’re saying is that the rules aren’t working at the moment, give people a moratorium for using it for their own selves.” Speaking in defence of those who use cannabis oil for their illnesses, Barry said: “People are not taking [CBD oil] to be illegal. They’re taking it because it works for them, or their kids or grandkids.”

Making a compelling case based on the fact that cannabis is a natural herb, Barry explained to the presenters: “The Prime Minister and Premier probably have fruit for breakfast and at lunchtime and dinner they probably have vegetables for their good health.

“Our grandchild and lots of other people want to take this plant extract for their good health. That’s a basic human right.”

Katelyn herself has also gotten involved in the protest process. In an open letter to the Australian Prime Minister and Premier, the 5-year-old writes:  “Cannabis has improved my condition enormously and my doctors and specialists have documented this […] b“But no matter how hard we have tried we still cannot get a permit from the Health Department to obtain this medicine legally.”

An open letter from Katelyn Lambert:

“Luckily my Dad has been willing to break the law for me. He has been charged by the police and he promises that he will go to jail so I can have a better life.”

“Your Governments have not told the public the truth about what it has done and this is why my grandparents are making sure this letter gets published on behalf of the thousands of Australians who are suffering today.”

Read Katelyn’s full letter:

The Lambert’s became so frustrated with the lack of progress in Australia, that they decided to take their money across to America, where they believe research into medicinal properties of cannabis is taking genuine steps forward. The billionaire told Weekend Sunrise the Sydney University “hasn’t done any trials, they’re still paying with mice. “They’ve [Thomas Jefferson University] got the right approach. They’re going to be out there doing stuff immediately.”

Speaking to the Thomas Jefferson University, Mr Lambert explained why he had chosen the American University as his next benefactor: “We have directly experienced the miraculous life-saving benefits of medicinal cannabis derived from Hemp.

Barry with his wife, Joy, and Henry Vincenty (CEO of Endoca)

Barry with his wife Joy and Henry Vincenty (CEO of Endoca)

“We are confident that working under modern US regulations, TJU and its innovative, scientific approach will prove to the medical profession the benefits and safety of medicinal cannabis for a broad range of illnesses, not just childhood epilepsy.”

After seeing his granddaughter going from 1,400+ seizures a day to zero, is it any wonder that this wonderful family have spent so much of their personal fortune on funding research into the medicinal properties of cannabis? Wouldn’t you do the same if a member of your family was suffering?

The UK is years behind the developed world in terms of cannabis research. The only form of cannabis legal for medication comes in the pharmaceutical kind, from GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex, a prescription-only drug used by multiple sclerosis patients.

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour officially support legalising cannabis for medical use, although the Greens and Lib Dems have been calling for legalisation for years.

The world needs more heroes like the Lambert family, it needs more courageous people to defy long outdated laws which jeopardies their family’s health. Would you stand up to the UK Government to save your grandchild?

Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to find out more about how cannabis could help you or a loved one, and stay tuned for our next HERO of the week!

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