Mother admits giving daughter medicinal cannabis

One News previews an item they will show on Sunday tonight (7 pm) – ‘I have no regrets’ Mum says medicinal cannabis was the only thing to help her daughter

A Hawke’s Bay mother has come clean about giving her daughter cannabis for a severe medical condition.

Toni Matich says the number of her daughter’s seizures dropped dramatically and her quality of life improved when taking medical cannabis.The teenager suffers from Dravet Syndrome, which causes her to suffer hundreds, sometimes thousands, of seizures a day.

Mum Toni Matich says the number of seizures dropped dramatically, and her daughter’s quality of life improved when taking medical cannabis.

Ms Matich, who has four other children, is speaking for the first time about her decision to break the law and give her daughter the drug.

“I have no regrets about what I did for my child. She had the best quality of life from her illness for that two years’’.

Ms Matich says her cannabis mixture was created with the help of professionals, including botanists and pharmacologists.

“I also consulted with medical cannabis specialists to understand (any interactions) with the medication she was on.”

Ms Matich says she had the cannabis mixture, rich in a compound called cannabidiol,  tested to make sure it was free of any toxins before she gave it to her daughter.

Other medications before that had caused horrific side effects, she says.

“One of them schizophrenic type behaviour, so violent, extremely violent.’’

Ms Matich speaks about her efforts to obtain medical cannabis, and the impact it had on her daughter, tonight on Sunday.

It’s going to be interesting to see this tonight. Matich is a leading campaigner for the safe use of medicinal cannabis

Now Ms Matich has set up a lobby group, United in Compassion New Zealand, to establish legitimate trials for medical cannabis.

Health officials are working closely with Ms Matich on her proposals.

The group is raising money through the ‘’Givealittle’’ website to fund its work. Details can be found at here.

New Zealand Drug Foundation has helped give that a good kick start with a $2,000 donation – Givealittle page.

Many examples of drug sentencing inconsistency

A number of examples have emerged of drug sentences that contrast with the two year prison sentence imposed on Kelly van Gaalen.

Ashburton Guardian 27 June 2015:

Cannabis sentencing draws criticism

A judge had little option other than discharging an Israeli couple caught with more than 6kg of dried cannabis, a legal expert says.

Israeli husband and wife Daniel and Hadas Surdri pleaded guilty to cultivating charges in the Ashburton District Court on Monday.

Judge Noel Welsh was persuaded by their lawyer Bevan Coombes to discharge them without conviction in return for a $2000 donation to the Salvation Army.

A police raid on the couple’s property on June 12 uncovered evidence of 54 harvested plants, a master plant – used to take propagation cuttings, and more than six kilograms of dried cannabis – the product of a sophisticated indoor growing operation.

Van Gaalen was sentenced to two years prison for possession of two plants. The disparity between these two sentences is alarming.

Meth-using police prosecutor fined $450

A police prosecutor used methamphetamine at sex parties, blogged about it, and posted videos of himself injecting the drug on the internet.

Brent William Thompson, 49, worked as a prosecutor in the Auckland District Court while based at Auckland Central Police Station.

He appeared in the Waitakere District Court today for sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing and using methamphetamine and using cannabis.

Judge Taumanu declined the discharge without conviction but said he had been persuaded that the case was a “tragedy” that did not require a “substantially punitive outcome”.

Thompson was convicted and fined $450.

A candidate from the recent Northland by-election:

Kelly van Gaalen supporters want bail for cannabis sentence

Legalise Cannabis Party member Maki Herbert was charged with cultivation for supply of 153 plants.

She was sentenced to 12 months home detention and 12 months post sentencing on July 4.

Herbert says the disparity in her and Van Gaalen’s sentences is “absolutely disgusting”.

“I just can’t believe she got what she got,” Herbert says.

“There’s got to be a balance in the sentencing process.

In a comment at The Daily Blog (on the post Mother of 3 jailed for 2 years – The madness of NZs cannabis laws) Rosemary McDonald details a number of drug sentences:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11107578

“Judge praises dealer for turning his life around”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/68901088/dope-dealing-new-plymouth-mum-sentenced

“A mother of two caught dealing cannabis with her partner has escaped prison.”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/63291741/British-guest-sentenced-for-drug-dealing

“Nevertheless, to ensure parity of sentencing, home detention was an appropriate sentence, he said.

Discharge without conviction

Dean Wentworth Shaw, 45, winemaker, of Cromwell, was granted a discharge without conviction for possessing LSD and cannabis on July 24.”

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10853070

“Drug-dealing father spared jail sentence”

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/crime/cannabis-dealing-lawyer-sentenced/

“A lawyer has been ordered not to practise law for three years after possessing and selling cannabis.”

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/332554/cannabis-dealer-jailed-16-months

“Judge Turner said he would have sentenced him to home detention had an appropriate address been available.”

http://www.greystar.co.nz/content/hairdresser-admits-drug-dealing

“A Greymouth hairdresser who admitted a “tail-end Charlie’’ role in a West Coast drug dealing operation today avoided a jail sentence.”

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:4gPD8nbVYJIJ:tvnz.co.nz/national-news/drug-dealing-pharmacist-emigrated-syria-gets-struck-off-6315401+&cd=25&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

“caught with morphine, cannabis and ritalin tablets. a toxic chemical smell coming from his apartment. He was sentenced in May 2014 to 10 months’ home detention.”

http://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/54743-drug-dealing-pensioner-sentenced.html

“A 65-year-old pensioner caught running a commercial cannabis operation with $108,000 in cannabis plants has been sentenced to nine months home detention. ”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/5638309/Seized-drug-house-to-be-auctioned

“The estimated street value of the cannabis was between $32,000 and $41,000.

In 2011, Tittleton was sentenced to forfeit 50 per cent of the value of his home, in the first time the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 had been used to seize a house in Marlborough.”

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11441851

“Man convicted of dealing P avoids prison time”

Compared to:

Kaikohe mum hit by jail term

A leading figure in Kaikohe’s arts and business communities has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of possession of cannabis for supply.

Judge John McDonald told the court that van Gaalen’s husband had been the victim of a violent home invasion by three armed men on July 14 last year. Mr van Gaalen, who was home alone, managed to escape and raise the alarm.

However, when police arrived they discovered a bucket of dried cannabis and more in a snaplock bag.

In total it weighed 684g.

Defence lawyer Doug Blaikie said he had been flooded with unsolicited references testifying to her good character and work in the community. In total 32 references had been provided by a range of people, including a former mayor, a principal and a pastor.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Gisler had called for three years, saying deterrence was important. Mr Blaikie had asked for a term of community detention.

Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.

“It is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not,” he said.

Judge McDonald gave her credit for her previous good record and “extremely worthwhile contribution”, but said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences.

“To say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement,” he said.

To say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement, but for reasons other than what Judge McDonald has given.

Brown slams van Gaalen prison sentence

Russell Brown at Public Address has slammed the two year prison sentence imposed on Kelly van Gaalen, and pointed out that Judge McDonald’s claim that “he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences” is highly disputable – it looks to be quite inconsistent.

Judicial caprice is no way to pursue law and order

Last week’s news that Kaikohe community leader Kelly van Gaalen had been sentenced to two years prison in the Whangarei District Court for possession of cannabis from two plants, with no evidence of commercial supply, has rightly and understandably caused outrage.

(Caprice: an impulsive change of mind, a sudden or unpredictable change of attitude, behaviour etc, etch; whim).

Some of that outrage was expressed here: More than just a troubling sentence.

Van Gaalen was charged after her husband, home alone at the time, was the victim of a violent home invasion in July last year. After he was able to raise the alarm, police arrived – and found the pot.

Charges against Mr van Gaalen were dropped when his wife took responsibility for the cannabis and said it was hers. Her claim that it came from two plants, one of which had gone particularly well that summer, is quite plausible. It’s notable that the police did not report what they found as cannabis heads. I’ll go out on a limb and guess this was not groomed, commercial marijuana and that most of it was some cabbage in a bucket.

Careless to leave something like that around but no evidence it was a commercial stash.

As Jack Tame notes in the Herald, the police presumably had the option to ”use discretion and destroy the drugs”, which might have been reasonable in the circumstances. But they laid a prosecution of possession for supply. Crown prosecutor Catherine Gisler then asked the judge to jail van Gaalen for three years, saying deterrence was important. Perhaps both parties felt it was not their place to exercise discretion.

But in our system it is certainly the place of the judge.

Brown quotes from the herald:

Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.

“It is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not,” he said …

Judge McDonald gave her credit for her previous good record and “extremely worthwhile contribution”, but said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences.

“To say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement,” he said.

And Brown slams that.

This is, simply, bullshit.

We don’t even need to search for convictions for violent and anti-social offences which have attracted lesser sentences, although there are too many of those to count. We can look at how another judge in the Whangarei High Court was able to exercise discretion in the case of a man who actually was busted in for commercial supply of cannabis.

From the Herald on that case:

Phillips, 49, appeared for sentencing in the High Court at Whangarei before Justice Paul Heath after earlier pleading guilty to six charges of selling cannabis and six of possessing cannabis for supply.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Anderson asked for a starting point of three years’ jail with six months added for Phillips’ previous drug convictions, which went back over 20 years.

“When you came into court your two boys went over spontaneously to greet you. It was very clear to me the nature of your relationship with them,” Justice Heath said.

“It’s clear you did a very good job raising your children. But on the other hand you behave like this, in a manner that shows you lack control of yourself.”

He said the reaction of Phillips’ sons and Mr Blaikie’s submissions had persuaded him by the narrowest of margins to give Phillips another opportunity to turn his life around.

So he got home detention despite previous convictions and despite pleading guilty to selling cannabis.

Brown cites two more cases:

In the same week as van Gaalen was sentenced to jail, in Westport, Ian Alfred Cole, who was convicted of cultivating cannabis and possessing it for supply (in considerably greater quantities than van Gaalen had) was sentenced only to home detention. Cole was caught with all the trappings of commercial supply and had pleaded not guilty. He also had LSD in his possession.

In 2011, Judge McDonald himself sentenced a couple who admitted cultivation and supply (not only of cannabis, but party pills) to only six months’ home detention.

Brown’s criticism is unusually strong for him:

Judge McDonald’s claim that his hands were tied in van Gaalen’s case was not only risible and untrue, it was cowardly.

‘Cowardly’ seems like an odd term, but McDonald’s sentence and reasoning in the van Gaalen case is certainly highly questionable.

And how the Police and the Courts deal with cannabis law and offending is highly questionable. At the least it seems very inconsistent, and at the worst it is simply not working.

While van Gaalen has borne the brunt of Judge McDonald’s heavy handedness (for now) the Judge has put the spotlight on the stupidity of our drug laws. Was this inadvertent or deliberate?

Pharmac to consider cannabis spray funding

NZ Herald reports Cannabis spray considered for public funding:

A cannabis spray used to treat epilepsy, pain and multiple sclerosis will be considered for public funding next month.

Pharmac, the agency responsible for deciding which medicines get subsidised, plans to discuss the Sativex spray with its primary clinical advisory committee, according to a letter from Pharmac released on Friday.

Pharmac said Sativex contained cannabidiol with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.

The agency said consideration from the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee was the first step in assessing the funding of a new medicine.

According to Medsafe, Sativex was already approved for use in New Zealand as “an add-on treatment” for some patients with moderate to severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

Specifically, it could be given to people who hadn’t responded adequately to other anti-spasticity medication and who showed improvement in spasticity-related symptoms during an initial trial of therapy.

Any other use of Sativex was currently banned.

One small step forward perhaps.

Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

From PRNewswire:

United Patients Group Participates in Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

The New Zealand Drug Foundation in conjunction with United in Compassion New Zealand call upon United Patients Group to contribute to a first-of-its-kind collaboration between US and international experts to further explore cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand for a range of conditions

SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — United Patients Group, the leading medical cannabis information and education site, disclosed their participation in a history-making policy briefing held last week in Wellington, New Zealand with key members of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, United In Compassion New Zealand, world-renowned researchers and leading medical cannabis physicians.  United Patients Group will act in an ongoing advisory and consultative capacity to the New Zealand working group in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to further explore and initiate potential phase 1 medical trials to examine cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand.

The esteemed invitation-only panel are made up of experts from across the medical cannabis care pathway and included New Zealand and Australian participants, along with several key experts from the United States, including United Patients Group.

John Malanca, founder of United Patients Group commented, “We are honored to be a part of such a ground-breaking and historic effort and are incredibly impressed that the New Zealand government has listened to its constituents and are making a concerted effort to explore thoughtfully and swiftly the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Background
In May 2015, after intense petitioning by United in Compassion NZ, recent media coverage of high profile medical cases and resulting public pressure, New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, agreed to start a dialogue in order to become better informed about the process of bringing medical cannabis into New Zealand for potential research and development purposes.

Dunne set up a team to explore the current climate regarding medical cannabis in New Zealand and formed a Ministry of Health Working Group, led by Dr. Stewart Jessamine, current Director of Public Health for the Ministry of Health in Wellington.  Jessamine also heads up Medicines Control which functions as a regulatory team within the Ministry of Health that oversees the local distribution chain of medicines and controlled drugs within New Zealand.  Jessamine is also an executive board member for the World Health Organization.

With a marked shift in public opinion toward legalization of cannabis for medical purposes worldwide, New Zealand (like the US) is re-examining its long-standing policies toward the (currently illegal) drug.

Compassion Melds with Science
Malanca further commented, “Fundamentally, it’s difficult to ignore the daily barrage of stories coming from all over the world where medical cannabis is cited as having an effective impact on the relief and treatment for patients living with chronic and life-threatening conditions such as Dravet Syndrome to brain cancer.”

It was Malanca’s own personal experience with the devastating diagnosis of his father-in-law’s lung cancer (which had metastasized to the brain), that led he and co-founder, Corinne Malanca to medical cannabis as a last lifeline for their family member, Stan Rutner.  Five years later, Stan Rutner remains cancer free (both brain and lung scans are clear).  The duo formed United Patients Group in 2010 in order to provide reliable, comprehensive information on medical cannabis to individuals around the world.  The online site has expanded to include information for caregivers, physicians and treatment facilities throughout the US as well as online CME (continuing medical education) courses in medical cannabis .

New Zealand Seeks US Expertise
Toni-Marie Matich is a mother of a teenage daughter suffering from Dravet Syndrome.  Matich also has an early education in science and horticulture. They live in New Zealand, where like many other countries, cannabis is illegal.  She had heard the story of young Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child who was suffering from 300 grand mal seizures per week that was being successfully treated with medical cannabis.

After exhausting all options available in New Zealand, and her daughter still suffering hundreds of seizures a day, Matich  began working behind the scenes for several years to try and raise the issue (and awareness) of medical cannabis, gaining the support of the NZ Children’s Commissioner, and the CEO of the NZ Drug Foundation along the way.  She became the New Zealand representative to United in Compassion Australia in 2014.

“Due to the laws criminalizing cannabis in New Zealand, it isn’t a treatment that our doctors or other health professionals are familiar with, therefore the ability for a doctor to have an open mind and discussion with their patient is non-existent and we would like that to change. I recognized that United Patients Group was leading the way in information across the entire spectrum of the medical cannabis movement in the US, as well as providing the educational resources for clinical and medical professionals, so I sought them out.”

Matich secured a meeting with (Associate Health Minister) Dunne, known for his vehement opposition to legalizing cannabis.  “Dunne listened and showed compassion.  To my surprise he immediately tasked a working group within the ministry to meet with us and engage in developing our initiatives.   A key component was to educate individuals on medical cannabis, so we immediately brought in United Patients Group.”

The policy briefing was hosted by the NZ Drug Foundation which functions as a charitable trust dedicated to advocating for evidence-based drug policies.  Ross Bell, Executive Director for the NZ Drug Foundation said, “Across the globe there’s a tremendous amount of new research coming up surrounding medical cannabis, and some of the research appears to be very promising.”  Bell stresses that at the core of the matter are the people of New Zealand, who are living with medical conditions that many of them feel may benefit from medical cannabis. “We’re thrilled to be working with experts from around the world, like United Patients Group, to address how to specifically deliver a medicine such as cannabis and to what type of medical condition while working through some of the political realities we face, just like any other nation at this time.”

In addition to United Patients Group, participants from the historic policy briefing included:

  • Toni-Marie Matich – Co-Founder and CEO, United in Compassion NZ Charitable Trust
  • Ross Bell – Executive Director of the NZ Drug Foundation
  • Dr. Russell Wills – The Children’s Commissioner (New Zealand)
  • Dr. Alan Shackelford  Harvard-trained physician and medical cannabis researcher who came to worldwide prominence as the doctor who successfully treated Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child suffering from 300 grand mal seizures a week
  • Dr. Bonni Goldstein – Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a medical practice in California devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions
  • Lucy Haslam – Co-Founder and Director, United In Compassion Australia
  • Troy Langman –  Co-Founder and Director,  United In Compassion Australia and New Zealand
  • Knut Ratzeberg – Laboratory Director, Medical Cannabis Services (AU)
  • Dr. Helga Seyler – Liaison between The University of Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
  • Nevil Schoenmaker – Founded ‘The Seed Bank’ in Holland in 1984, and was one of the first legal producers of cannabis seeds

About United Patients Group
United Patients Group (UPG) is the unparalleled online resource and trusted leader for medical cannabis information and education for physicians, patients and health-related organizations.

Learn more about United Patients Group at www.unitedpatientsgroup.com

About United In Compassion NZ
United In Compassion is a non-profit charitable trust whose purpose is to educate the public on Medicinal Cannabis, supporting and facilitating NZ based research into the therapeutic effects of cannabinoid based medicines, as well as providing support to New Zealanders who would like to access legal medicinal cannabis, as well as to lobby government for legislation changes regarding the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes  http://unitedincompassion.org.nz/

About NZ Drug Foundation
A charitable trust dedicated to evidence-based alcohol and other drug policy.  http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/

Curwen Rolinson and NZ First

Curwen Rolinson has been associated with NZ First – as Board member for six years so presumably longer than that. He has been reported as leading NZ First Youth.

It’s been reported today that Former NZ First youth leader on cannabis charge

The former president of New Zealand First’s youth wing has been charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

Curwen Rolinson’s always been a troublemaker for New Zealand First and now it seems he’s a law-breaker as well.

Police arrested the aspiring politician on April 15, and he since appeared in court charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

Former NZ First Youth president? A press release followed soon after this news under Winston Peters’ name:

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
7 JULY 2015

Statement on Curwen Rolinson

A remit proposing to formalise a youth wing is coming before the New Zealand First Convention in August.

Mr Curwen Rolinson was told countless times never to call himself the president or leader of a youth wing. New Zealand First does not have a youth wing in its Constitution, and therefore does not have a former or present president of such an organisation.

So NZ First are disowning Rolinson? He has certainly been connected with NZ First, but  in what capacity?

Searching the NZ First website on either his first or last name gets no hits.

He posts often at The Daily Blog and this one yesterday (6 July 2015) identifies him as a past Board member:

This piece has been a joint effort between long-serving former New Zealand First Board of Directors member Curwen Ares Rolinson, and a mysterious Southern gentleman known only as “Eduardo”.

There he is “former New Zealand First Board of Directors member” but in an earlier post on June 18:

Curwen Ares Rolinson was once, thanks to the Prime Minister, memorably investigated by the counter-terrorism branch of the NZ Police’s Special Investigations Group as a potential “Threat to National[‘s] Security”. He also blogs regularly at a variety of outlets; and heads up NZ First Youth.

This had changed to ‘former’ by June 27:

This piece has been a joint effort between long-serving former New Zealand First Board of Directors member Curwen Ares Rolinson, and a mysterious Southern gentleman known only as “Eduardo”.

On his Facebook ‘About’:

Former Board of Directors; at New Zealand First

Here is his resignation from the NZ First Board on June 14:

The very first thing anybody learns about me – apart from, possibly, the fact I’m an Aries … is that my life is completely dedicated to New Zealand First.

Earlier this week, I tendered my resignation from NZF’s Board of Directors, in protest against what I considered to be unconscionable and dishonourable conduct from same.

Needless to say, this saddens me greatly. My service unto The Party, as delivered from that highest echelon, has been one of the highlights of my young life. The resounding recognition received for same from the thousands of Party members whom I’ve met at Conventions and in my travels across the land has been truly humbling. As has their supreme confidence in me by continually re-electing me to the Board for six years running. Who’d have thought a political party best known for its advocacy for the aged would EVER have entrusted a young lad of 20 with elevation to its highest body.

I’m truly pleased with what I’ve been able to accomplish as a Board member. NZ First developed a Youth Wing, a Social Media Presence, and numerous other 21st century innovations in no small part thanks to my efforts (although it is also VITALLY important to recognize that I didn’t do any of this alone, and that other people – in the case of NZ First Youth, DOZENS of other people – helped to make it all possible).

But regardless of whereabouts I wind up in the organization, my core belief – that New Zealand First represents the best, brightest, and blackest hope for our Nation’s future salvation – remains absolutely unchallenged.

There has therefore never even been the vaguest hint of a question about whether or not our fates remain intertwined.

To quote from my letter of resignation:

“Having said all that: I wish to make one thing perfectly and absolutely clear.

I am not going anywhere.

I still resolutely believe in this Party – its ordinary members, if not always its leadership; its Leader, if not always his martinets; and its principles if not always their practical applications.

My heart is still Black; and the linings remain – as ever – Silver.

I will therefore be continuing in my membership of New Zealand First, my activities in running the Youth Wing, and my public representations on our behalf through media such as The Daily Blog. […]

I hope by offering my Resignation […] that this allows us all to move forward in relative dignity; and get on with the serious business of protecting and saving our New Zealand, rather than wasting your breath and my sanity on continued factional infighting.

Our mission, here in politics, is bigger than each of us and any of us.

I look forward to continuing to play my part within it.

Yours faithfully,

Curwen Ares Rolinson. ”

The Age of Ares is over.

“Acta est fabula, plaudite!”

Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.
Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.

Oddly from the previous day:

On Sunday, at our Party Convention, I was once again re-elected to NZ First’s Board of Directors.

I believe my campaign promises included “levity” and “keeping the bastards honest”.

I thank the Party for its ongoing faith in me and what I do :D

They’ve voted for me en masse in each of 2010, 2012 and now 2014, so I must be doing something right :P

Confusing.

Rolinson was referring to NZ First Youth still on July 4 (last Saturday):

New Zealand First Youth meetup last night. We look like a goddamn boyband.

 — with Simon Oh Ionmhainèain and 3 others.

Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.

The NZ First – Pakuranga Facebook timeline shows him as “Curwen Rolinson from the NZ First Youth Wing“:

NZFirstPakurangaFacebookIn March 2013: NZ First Youth denies pledge at odds with party

The president of NZ First’s youth wing has signed a pledge in favour of same-sex marriage.

It is a move that goes against the party’s opposition to the marriage equality bill, which is due for its second reading in Parliament on Thursday.

NZ First Youth president Curwen Rolinson was one of eight youth party representatives who signed a marriage equality certificate outside Parliament this morning.

However, Mr Rolinson says his youth wing’s stance is not at odds with the party and his signing of the pledge was on the condition of a referendum.

He has an unofficially connected blog called Putting NZ First:

PuttingNZFirstblog

NO COMMENTS:

So it’s curious that NZ First seem to be trying to distance themselves from Rolinson’s party Youth wing activities when he has been a Board member for six years.

And if he’s been reported as NZ First Youth president for years why deny it now? Of course Rolinson’s arrest could be seen as embarrassing for the party but a belated cutting adrift won’t change much.

Related post: NZ First youth wing

Alex Renton dies

Very sad to hear that Alex Renton died yesterday. Prior reports had been of improvement as he was gradually allowed to come out of a drug induced coma as cannabis oil treatment increased.

His family posted on Facebook – Support for Alex’s Journey – last night:

This evening our beautiful warrior Alex passed peacefully away. He was surrounded by his family, listening to his own music with a tummy of mums food. We thank you all from our hearts as you kept us strong during this journey. His spirit is amongst us all as he taught us so very much. We love you dear Alex (aka Ratty) xxxxxxx

Two days earlier (June 29) they had posted:

Alex is holding his own maintaining his own breathing! He shows courage, strength and fortitude as he battles towards better health. Keep prayers flowing. We are now feeding Alex our own meals with support from Hospital. This continues to be the most challenging event of our lives as a family, support around NZ is incredible, thank you xx. Rose

Stuff reports Nelson teenager Alex Renton dies despite treatment with medical cannabis.

Alex, 19, has been in hospital since April 8 in “status epilepticus”, a kind of prolonged seizure. It was not known what caused the seizures.

He had been put in an induced coma and his family petitioned the Government to allow him to be treated with a medicinal cannabidiol oil, Elixinol. They gained national support and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne approved it to be used last month.

Alex was given his first dose of the oil on June 16, after it arrived from America.

His sedation medication treatment was reduced and he regained consciousness and his seizures stopped in that first week.

There will possibly be an inquest into Alex’s illness and death to explore the complex medical issues involved.

Gareth Jones, dying and cannabis oil

Gareth Jones is dying of cancer. He was told he had only a few months to live (last October). He producing his own cannabis oil and self medicating with it. He says it helps his pain and thinks it may have extended his life. But it’s illegal.

3-D (3 News): Cancer patient says NZ needs law change on medical cannabis

His pain is substantial. He’s doing his best to manage it with pharmaceutical drugs administered through this “pain patch”, but he’s adamant the cannabis oil is playing a lead role in fighting the pain and improving his quality of life.

He says the benefits are sleeping, pain relief and appetite.

Mr Jones also believes his homemade medicine is extending his life. Last October he was told he had just three months to live.

“The way the oncologist was talking it was more like I’d have a month of good and maybe a month or two after that, maybe three months tops, and he was talking six months as the extreme side of it and I’m over that now,” says Mr Jones.

Regardless of whether the cannabis oil is providing any real medical benefit – even if it is just having a placebo effect – surely there is nothing wrong with a dying man from using it. It’s hard to see what harm can be done by it.

Without fail, every night Mr Jones takes two capsules – a measured combination of his home-cooked cannabis oil mixed with coconut oil.

“Yes [I get high], but that’s why I take it at night, so I sleep off the effects, so I don’t really feel anything. So that’s why I take a good dose at night then wake up in the morning and it’s gone and I carry on the day like normal.”

He needn’t get high – if the law allowed him to use cannabis oil that was low in intoxicants. Cannabis low in THC can be grown although it isn’t readily available in New Zealand.

But so what if he gets high?

What makes it even more frustrating for Mr Jones is seeing the recent legalisation of medical cannabis across the United States; in many states what he’s doing is totally legal.

“It’s pretty average really. For trying to extend my life and spend more time with my family I get made a criminal for it.

“Something needs to change in New Zealand. Most other countries have woken up to it. And using it for medicinal use anyway, they’ve been doing it for a long time with good results now, so it’s about time New Zealand finally caught up.”

Overseas, studies have found cannabis works well on chronic pain, especially for people like Mr Jones with late-stage cancers.

But this family can’t wait for New Zealand to catch on. Mr Jones is determined to see his daughter turn three. If that means breaking the law, then that’s what he’ll do.

“I guess I’ll just keep taking my nightly pills and go from there I guess. I don’t really have back-up plans now.

I suppose there’s a risk that now Gareth has gone public the police could arrest him. What then – put him in a prison hospital and does him up on morphine?

Morphine is often legally provided for pain relief and that is highly intoxicating. It seems nuts that a milder and far safer intoxicant can’t be legally used, especially as it might provide other medical benefits as well.

The Ministry of Health told 3D as part of a wider review of the Medicines Act it’s looking into the legislation around the use of controlled drugs, including cannabis. The results of the review will be released next year.

It seems likely Gareth will be dead by next year. Because our Government is paranoid about sick and dying people getting high using cannabis – already one of the most widely used drugs in New Zealand.

Studies on medical cannabis “mostly poor quality” but prospects for change

It was interesting to see this posted on the United Future Facebook time line – Studies Supporting Use of Medical Marijuana are Mostly Poor Quality, Researchers Find.

The White House has just announced that it will be relaxing some of its strict regulations on marijuana research, making it easier for scientists to conduct clinical studies on the drug.

This could not have come at a better time, it seems, as a comprehensive review of 40 years of human trials that examined its potential use in treating a variety of ailments has suggested that high-quality evidence supporting its therapeutic use is lacking.

With its increasing popularity, now is the time to critically evaluate its effectiveness in clinical settings, which is precisely what a team of researchers from the University of Bristol recently set out to do.

As described in the journal JAMA, the team set out to review the benefits of cannabinoids in the treatment of various diseases or symptoms. Almost 80 randomized clinical trials were included in the study, which revealed that the majority found an improvement in symptoms with the use of cannabinoids. While this may sound positive, they actually found that most of these associated health improvements were not statistically significant.

Some study successes:

Of those that were considered to be of moderate quality, support was found for the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

And some failures:

But for sleep disorders, weight gain in HIV infection, Tourette’s syndrome, and nausea due to chemotherapy, studies reporting improvements with cannabinoid use were considered to be of low quality.

An obvious need for more comprehensive studies.

So if the studies aren’t good enough, why is medical marijuana so widely used to treat certain diseases? The FDA actually requires a minimum of two randomized clinical trials of adequate quality before a drug can be approved for a specific medical condition, but it seems that many cannabis studies have slipped through the net. But as pointed out by anaccompanying editorial, this arguably reflects difficulties in conducting clinical studies on the drug due to its classification as a Schedule 1 drug.

It’s difficult to adequately study drugs that are illegal and use of them is prosecuted.

The take-home message from this review is therefore not that marijuana has no place in modern medicine, but that there is a clear need for more robust studies into its use, especially given the fact that more governments are now contemplating its legalization as a medicinal or recreational drug.

Shane responded to this on facebook:

Part of the issue is that public policy has outstripped the science due to restrictions in place. Many people are now well aware of its medical potential for things such as intractable epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, neuro degenerative conditions such as MS and MND, and my particular interest, chronic pain. The science is coming in to back up these conditions, but if we wait for 100% certainty of the science, people will needlessly suffer, Charlotte Figi would be dead without MC, of that we can be nearly certain, As well as as the countless chronic pain patients in the USA who have avoided overdosing on opiates with medical cannsbis as a safer alternative. A middle ground must be found to serve the public interest while those suffering wait impatiently for the science to catch up.

If there’s relatively low risk (especially compared to other drugs) and the chances of some benefits then more liberal controls make sense.

Dunne: find a doctor who is open to medicinal cannabis

Peter Dunne has been reported as effectively encouraging patients wanting to use medicinal cannabis to find a doctor who will consider this in their interest.

This is in Mum desperate for medicinal cannabis for her sick son:

Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has made it clear to GPs and the Medical Association that conservatism about using medicinal cannabis isn’t always in the best interests of their patients.

If a doctor wasn’t open to medicinal cannabis then families had the option of finding another doctor, he said.

“I’m not going to encourage or discourage that because it’s not my role, but it’s an option for them to consider.”

This looks like a carefully worded but significant statement from Dunne. This was in response to discussion about other parents wanting to try medical cannabis for their children because other drugs weren’t helping and follows the approval of the Ministry and Dunne to allow Alex Renton to be treated with Elixinol.

His family’s fight to get doctors to apply to the Ministry of Health has triggered another mother, Julie Dixon, to share her experiences battling for CBD for her son, Matthew.

The Christchurch 27-year-old has suffered from refractory epilepsy since he was aged 3 and has spent much of his life in and out of a hospital.

“We’re desperate,” Dixon said.

Matthew’s seizures are uncontrolled by medication and he too has spent time in hospital in an induced coma.

The Government allows oral treatment of a drug called Sativex, which contains cannabis extracts that include CBD and requires ministerial approval.

When Dunne approved Elixinol for Alex Renton it was the first time that particular product had been approved.

“The last time we visited the specialist we asked about Sativex and the doctor’s response was, why would you want to try that when it hasn’t been proven to work,” Dixon said.

“For us there is an absence of any other treatment options. We are regularly advised there is nothing left.”

Dixon said doctors have never discussed anything outside of conventional treatments with her and it was only when she started doing her own research she came across Sativex and Elixinol.

She and her husband, Kelvin, have written to Dunne asking for approval but without the support of Matthew’s doctor, Dunne is hamstrung by the procedure, which isn’t one he plans to change.

“At the end of the day cannabis oil is just another drug – no different from the powerful drugs being used to keep Alex comatose and the powerful drug that our son Matthew takes every day of his life, which does not control his seizures,” she said.

And Dunne seems to be following these cases and recognises the difficulties the families are having with treatments.

While Dunne said he had considerable sympathy for the families involved, “I’m not a clinician and I’m not in any position to override the clinical judgment.”

But he is open to broadening access to medicinal cannabis despite Prime Minister John Key saying he wouldn’t support a parliamentary debate on the matter.

“We are watching closely the trials that are being undertaken in Australia. Essentially if they prove to be effective we would obviously seek to take advantage of them in New Zealand.

“But the real issue beyond that is manufacturers being prepared to make those drugs available, in some cases they’re not interested because they don’t see the market as big enough.”

For it to go beyond a case by basis a manufacturer would have to apply for interim or general approval of use of their products here.

Perhaps the New Zealand market isn’t big enough – but if a manufacturer had their products approved in the New Zealand market and proved their worth here that would do a lot to help them establish wider markets.

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