Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis

A silly headline but a useful article from NZ Herald: Medical marijuana: Is NZ dazed and confused?

A conservative lobby group is seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis for chronic pain relief.

Kat Le Brun, by her own admission, is a “grumpy” Christian student teacher from Nelson, and Jacinta, a tiger mother with a quickfire voice.

What do they have in common? Pain. Not bang-your-thumb-with-a-hammer pain, but the sort of pain that lasts as long as you do.

Chronic pain.

Many people suffer from chronic pain and legal pain relief products are not always effective – and can be addictive, like  morphine.

“I believe we have to focus on the medical at this stage. It might be selfish but it’s all getting muddled up. We need to look at one issue. This is too much for the politicians to deal with.”

This conflation of medical marijuana and general legalisation may be one reason why New Zealand seems stuck, while our neighbours and allies are moving quite fast.

Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states of the United States, half the country.

In Australia, Victoria and ACT are preparing to join the party.

Ross Bell from the NZ Drug Foundation says after all these years railing against the evils of marijuana our Government is in a bit of a quandary.

“They think they are the drug warriors. Medical marijuana is confusing them, ‘we should do something but we don’t know what’. Something’s not computing. They don’t know what to do to meet the needs of the 75 per cent.”

New Zealand is certainly lagging behind the US and Australia on enabling the legal use of medicinal cannabis products.

Like Kat, Nichola’s tried marijuana and finds it transformative.

“It works and it’s a crime that it’s not available to us,” says Nichola. But just like Kat she refuses to turn herself into a criminal.

“I have quite strong values. I don’t want to blur the lines.”

In the blurry world of right and wrong all these women have had more experience with hard drugs than any of the dodgiest-looking characters on the protest.

Tramadol, OxyContin, morphine. You name it. Nichola is even taking heroin substitute methadone. She longs for medical marijuana to be legal.

“That’d be incredible. I’d be burning all my drugs my methadone and fentanyl patches.”

Patient frustration at the fringe nature of the movement has birthed a new conservative pressure group.

The co-ordinator is Kat’s husband Shane Le Brun.

“It’s been a long journey. Before my wife was injured we chucked flatmates out for drug use once upon a time. Now the tables have turned,” says the former soldier and National Party voter.

It’s called MCANZ. Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand.

They are trying to normalise the health benefits only of cannabis products.

A report to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman obtained under an Official information request says “there is a lack of robust clinical data and evidence of patient benefit”.

Kat, Nichola and Jacinta’s daughter have carried out their own personal trials and believe it works for chronic pain. For them anyway.

Not a cure or anything but a great alternative to opiates.

“It means pain relief that doesn’t affect me in a bad way,” says Kat. “A natural solution without all these massive side effects.”

With one in five kiwi adults suffering from chronic pain, Shane believes there are thousands out there who could benefit from medical marijuana.

But he’s careful not to suggest that it’s a panacea.

“At one end conservatives say it gives you schizophrenia and is so addictive and horrible. Then you’ve got those who say it will cure all ills and you never need another drug again. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Getting New Zealand to catch up with that middle is a challenge given the current Government’s unwillingness to change the law.

Revelations that Martin Crowe and Paul Holmes used marijuana to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy has no doubt bolstered public opinion in New Zealand.

Since 2003 the number of people in favour of medical marijuana has doubled.

“We have people like Sir Paul Holmes using it in his dying days,” says Shane.

“You don’t have to be a hardcore lefty for that to strike a chord.”

Helen Kelly is another high profile user of medicinal cannabis, the difference being she is going public while she is still alive (albeit dying).

Shane agrees there’s a lot of compassionate cultivation going on.

“Some people will just grow and do it on the sly to self-medicate.”

But as Ross Bell warns, if you are treating kids with seizures you probably don’t want just anyone boiling up cannabis oil, you probably do want pharmaceuticals.

MCANZ is supportive of Rose Renton’s work, but as a conservative charity can’t support home-growing.

“As the only patient-led group playing within the rules we hope to be taken a little more seriously. All we care about is getting medicine into patients hands and getting rid of the background noise.”

To that end MCANZ is trying to make two cannabis-based medicines from a Canadian company called Tilray available for patients.

But there are hoops.

First they have to be assessed by the Ministry of Health, then personally signed off by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

The MCANZ applications are expected to land on Dunne’s desk in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Kat and Shane are contemplating a second baby.

They hope medical marijuana might be available by the time it arrives. Their first child was born addicted to narcotics because of all the painkillers Kat had been prescribed.

“What my son went through because of the medication … For two weeks he had to go through withdrawals. I would not wish that on anyone. That’s what opiates do.”

What is currently available legally has major drawbacks, generally and compared to cannabis products.

They are sharing this personal story in the hope the decision makers will listen.

“They should come and sit with us and see what goes on with our families on a daily basis,” says Shane.

“There’s so much suffering our people go through. All behind closed doors. The only way is to open it up.”

Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis seems the sensible, logical, relatively safe and compassionate way to go.

Since when was rain not a spring thing?

On whichever channel I was watching last night (I think it was Newshub) they made a comment along the lines of rainy weather not being a spring thing.

The Herald implies something similar:

springrain

Stuff had an odd Spring caption in Heavy rain lashing Auckland and Northland causes flooding:

Sophia Williams, 4 of Herne Bay, was enjoying the wet weather despite it technically being spring.

Wet weather despite it being spring? Rain in spring tends to be helpful in making things grow, and it’s not out of the ordinary.

Auckland averages 1211 mm of rain a year, 105 mm in September (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland#Climate with Whangarei slightly more), so September is average for rainfall there. Average rain days per year are 136, in September it’s 12.8 so again fairly normal – every second or third day it rains on average.

There was also flooding last September by the look of Heavy rain, flooding in North Island spark warnings.

September 2012: Auckland suburbs flood as rain hits.

Stupid headlines and content are common, but it stood out that three media coincidentally made stupid comments about spring rain.

 

Social chat – Monday

A post for social chat. You can still chat socially on other posts if it happens in relation to other discussions but if you simply want a bit of social chat start here.

The usual guidelines apply as to respecting others, behaviour and avoiding legal exposure. An emphasis on ‘social’, not ‘anti-social’.

Media watch – Monday

26 September 2016

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

As usual avoid anything that could cause any legal issues such as potential defamation or breaching suppression orders. Also remember that keeping things civil, legal and factual is more effective and harder to argue against or discredit.

Sometimes other blogs get irate if their material is highlighted elsewhere but the Internet is specifically designed to share and repeat information and anyone who comments or puts anything into a public forum should be aware that it could be republished elsewhere (but attribution is essential).

Open Forum – Monday

26 September 2016

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised unless obviously malicious from anyone breaching site protocols, or spam.

Little dismisses Clark’s centre ground

This morning on TV1’s Q & A Helen Clark said that to win an election it was necessary to command the centre ground, but Andrew Little dismissed this as unnecessary and said that his aim was to form a “a coalition of constituencies” such as low- and middle-income Kiwis concerned about issues like housing and the economy.

Stuff: Labour leader Andrew Little dismisses Helen Clark’s advice about ‘commanding the centre ground’

Clark told TVNZ progressive parties like Labour could not be written off and had to “roll with the punches” despite poor results around the world in recent years.

“The truth is that the modern politics in democratic societies has become a bit like a consumer exercise. You try something; you try something else.”

However, they had to ensure they had the support of voters in the centre in order to succeed, she said.

“It’s possible and it’s necessary, because to win an election in New Zealand or probably any Western society, you must command the centre ground.

“You have your strong core of supporters, but you must get the centre ground voters, and I think I was successful in that for quite a lot of years.”

And John Key has been successful for three elections since Clark led the country.

But Little sees Labour’s future opportunities.

But Little said he didn’t think an analysis about the centre is at all helpful – “it’s meaningless”..

“What I talk about and what I think about are the issues of the day and the constituencies who are most concerned.”

Little said his focus was instead on forming “a coalition of constituencies”, such as low- and middle-income Kiwis concerned about issues like housing and those in the business sector unsatisfied with the Government’s efforts to grow the economy.

“Right now, we’ve got a whole bunch of people in New Zealand who are being shut out of the kind of opportunities that were taken for granted 20 years ago.”

Little has a bit of work to do to convince voters this is a winning strategy. It’s a huge risk trying something untested like this.

The World Needs (and Heeds) Economic Reform

A comment from PartisanZ went into auto-moderation (due to the number of links), but it’s worth a post.


In response to Muriel Newman’s “New Zealand Needs Tax Reform”, the argument that tax reductions automatically equate to increased productivity, from which singularly ensues sustainable growth and prosperity http://www.nzcpr.com/new-zealand-needs-tax-reform/

The World Needs (and Heeds) Economic Reform …

As a new economic era dawns across the world, heralding the end of “greed is good” neoliberal doctrines – Friedman’s ‘Chicago School’, backed by U.S. imperialism, tested in Pinochet’s Chile – the simplistic tax-versus-growth argument offered by Muriel Newman (‘A strong case for tax reform’ 22 Sept) becomes blatantly one-sided, aka confirmation bias.

Much research supports the underlying, albeit incomplete premise – taxation affects economic growth [1] – hence Newman’s correlation is not illusory but rather obstinate ‘belief preservation’, nowadays almost wishful thinking.

By extension, the idea that 0% taxation leads to 100% productivity is as ludicrous as believing 100% individual financial responsibility results from zero transfer payments.

To focus on the relationship between tax and growth alone is to renounce reason and abnegate morality. Doing so denies a) the social activity and arithmetic complexity of economics and b) Other inter-related factors, notably:

  1. The need for government revenue.
  2. Income and wealth inequality.
  3. Broader ethical considerations.

Growth is no more a function of taxation alone than poverty is solely a function of cold, damp houses or low income or housing affordability, as Maxim Institute’s Kieran Madden proclaimed in the previous Northland Age issue, although he offers only “the real business of developing policies” as any solution.[2]

If we don’t want Aotearoa New Zealand to be a banana republic, despotic dictatorship, war-lord piratocracy or barren corporatocracy – e.g. medical insurance funds completely privatised health system – we must acknowledge we need bureaucracy, public administration, infrastructure and services. The higher our standard-of-living expectations, the greater the government revenue required. Economics isn’t rocket science.

The 2005 Central Budget Office (USA) analysis of the Laffer curve relationship between tax and government revenue showed “… only 28% of the projected lost revenue from the lower tax rate would be recouped over a 10-year period after a 10% across-the-board reduction in all individual income tax rates (e.g., from 25% to 22.5%). In other words, deficits would increase by nearly the same amount as the tax cut in the first five years …”[3]. Government deficits necessitate borrowing.

Recently three IMF economists stated “The increase in inequality engendered by financial openness and austerity might itself undercut growth, the very thing that the neoliberal agenda is intent on boosting,” Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani, and Davide Furceri argued. “There is now strong evidence that inequality can significantly lower both the level and the durability of growth.” The IMF is a traditional bastion of the neoliberal consensus. [4]

And so to ethics. In 1944 Frank E Warner wrote, “An ethic based on the clear separation between the rational and irrational worlds must remove from economics – an activity purely rational by definition – all that is irrational and alien to it. Provision for mankind is nothing more than a problem of technical organisation … one of the great tasks of administration.” [5]

Muriel Newman’s one-eyed, outdated partiality is the problem, not the solution. Classical-Libertarian economics with its “profits ahead of people” globalised, financialised and commodified ‘free market’ results in rampant consumerism, cultural narcissism and environmental exploitation that grossly outweighs any false promise “trickle down” effect. Neoliberalism is no more sustainable than hard-core socialism.

Some useful and painful lessons were learned from the ideological, extreme pendulum swing, “toss the baby” of Rogernomics, Ruthanasia and FIIRE economy management – Finance, Insurance, Immigration, Real Estate. Now it’s time for considered, balanced and compassionate economic evolution; a smooth transition to the next phase: Enterprising, socially responsible capitalism?

[1] http://taxfoundation.org/article/what-evidence-taxes-and-growth
[2] http://www.maxim.org.nz/Blog/Between_risk_and_reality
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
[4] http://www.businessinsider.com.au/deutsche-bank-on-the-end-of-an-economic-era-2016-9?r=UK&IR=T

Picture of the day

A couple of comments from yesterday:

Missy:

Hey PP, next time I take the riverbus home I will get some pictures and send to Pete and ask him to post them for you.

patupaiarehe :

Perhaps we could have a ‘picture of the day’ here? Whatcha reckon Pete?

Contributions are welcome. Email me, or pictures posted in comments may be worth a post of their own.

I’ll kick things off with this:

rowingsunrise

Rowing on Otago Harbour

 

 

Hide right and wrong about left wing social media

In his latest column Rodney Hide writes about an ailing left that lacks puff and policy, and also blasts the political left on social media.

He is right that the left can be appalling in social media, but he is wrong that it is only the left.

Herald: Left lacks puff and policy

The left now suffer from closed minds and moral smugness. They are moribund and backward-looking.

They run from ideas. Opposing philosophies distress them.

They pillory dissenters as stupid or immoral and often both. There’s no debating or explaining, just abuse for those who step outside received wisdom.

The left have taken to social media with gusto. It only takes 140 characters to abuse and attack.

They fill Twitter and blogs with their righteousness and smugness, puffed up by their own perceived moral and intellectual superiority.

There’s no allowance that a person with a differing view might offer an opportunity to learn and to strengthen your ideas and perhaps, just perhaps, to change them.

That’s never allowed as a possibility.

Their minds are closed and they gasp and take offence at any idea or opinion different to their own.

Indeed, ganging up against dissenters on social media is what binds them. Their attacks on others proves to them their correctness and superiority.

The left are puzzled about why they’re politically marginalised but never trouble themselves to listen to those who have turned away from them. They look down on them and despise them.

The left view their political failure as the fault of voters who must be hoodwinked, stupid, selfish, or suffering some other ethical or intellectual shortcoming. Why else would they not be supporting the left when they are so good and true?

The problem is never with the left or their doctrine.

They are a self-reinforcing sect who in their wretchedness and anger are becoming ever smaller. Their narrow and insular outlook prevents them reaching out. Little wonder it’s not attractive to new recruits.

Labour is the narrow party that has shut itself off from the great bulk of New Zealanders.

I’ve seen a lot of all of this on Twitter, Facebook and on left wing blogs. And also on right wing blogs.

But I think that Hide is right, this is a real problem for Labour in particular.

Even Andrew Little has turned bitterly on ex Labour supporters, dissing them calling them right wing for having the gall to criticise Labour or stand against an anointed Labour candidate.

And there is no sign that this burning off of potential support is going to be dampened.

If the left want to attract more support they need to look more attractive.

UPDATE: I have also quoted what Rodney has said at The Standard and they are already  proving his point. That’s both funny and quite sad.

UPDATE 2: Greg Presland has had a crack back in a post – Dear Herald you can do better than Rodney Hide

Greg questions some of Hide’s claims, like the left is moribun and backward looking – only some of the left fits that description, and so does some of the right – and “National is now the vibrant party looking to the future and open to diverse views” is certainly questionable.

But Greg ignores the toxic nature of left wing social media, which is often on show at The Standard.

Are we a country of casual racists?

Apparently claims have been made that we are a country of casual racists because of something one person said on a ‘reality’ TV show. Mass blaming because of one comment seems ridiculous, but Heather du Plessis-Allen has written a column about it.

NZH: Give the prejudice test a go

Now seems an opportune time to test your bigotry, given claims that The Real Housewives of Auckland proves we’re a country of casual racists.

I don’t think a comment by one attention seeking housewife from Auckland has got anything to do with me.

In the latest – and most dramatic – episode, housewife Julia Sloane – who is white – refers to another housewife – who is not white – as a boat n*****.

Things go understandably awry.

There is crying, yelling and a champagne glass used as a projectile.

Call me cynical, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the term, that I would have thought was rarely used in New Zealand, was staged to stir up publicity. Isn’t that how those programs work? Yeah, I’m prejudiced against programs like that.

It’s a surprise anyone still uses the n-word this side of the millennium. It’s the second-most offensive word in New Zealand and has been for at least 17 years, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But, it’s a little hysterical to claim this is proof New Zealand is populated by a horde of casual racists who treat other ethnicities with the kind of cavalier disregard suggested by a phrase like casual racism.

I don’t know whether the mass blaming was done hysterically or not but it’s both stupid and it’s offensive to me.

Still, the event has given us a good chance to have a hunt around the attic of our attitudes and toss out a few we don’t need anymore. This is, after all, week two of a debate about racism in New Zealand.

Last week we questioned whether Nikolas Delegat – the son of winemaker Jim Delegat – received a seemingly light sentence for assaulting a policewoman because he was white. We also asked why white first-time offenders are twice as likely as Maori offenders to be let off with only a pre-charge warning.

In the same week, I met a woman in a regional city who twice referred to Maori men as “boy”, in one case in the presence of the man in question, who looked like he’d seen about 40 more summers than your average boy.

Terms like “boy” are at worst loaded with connotations of slavery and oppression and at best patronising.

There is certainly quite a bit of racism and racist attitudes in New Zealand, but there is also quite a bit of blaming everyone for the sins of some.

So, perhaps now is the time to spring clean ourselves of our racist attitudes.

Give the prejudice test a go.

She is referring to what is claimed to be a simple test, but I don’t know how well it applies to New Zealand.

But you can try it and see if you are a casual racist or not.

It looks like you are supposed to read the disclaimer, click on agree and then then choose the Race option.