Introducing a new Author – Shane Le Brun

Hello everyone, I’d like to formally introduce myself to the Blog, as I will be writing on an issue that effects me personally, Medicinal Cannabis, over the next few months.

For a little background on me,  I joined the Army fresh out of high school and spent just over 8 years “In Green” most of which was spent as an Ammunition Technician, blowing stuff up as a perk, between more mundane parts of the role. After things went to custard for the wife  I studied IT in Christchurch, and moved to Nelson for a Job opportunity.

In the past year I have been gradually becoming more vocal on the Medical Marijuana (MMJ) scene in NZ, following a string of near misses my wife has had with Opiates (Morphine class of Drugs) in a hospital setting. Then the astounding level of pain relief obtained on the first attempt with MMJ.  I have been selected as a board member for Green Cross, mainly due to my knowledge and first hand experience as an “Amateur Aneasthetist” with regards to the pros, cons, and side effects of various pain medications, the experience derived from caring for my wife and being over involved in her ACC process.   I have also been working closely with Karen Jeffries and a few others who have been advocating for longer from the more recent development in MMJ, the treatment of Pediatric or intractable epilepsy.

Much of the MMJ community, (or at least the most vocal parts) in NZ is very left wing, having been on the receiving end of what they see as an unjust govt policy from both the Labour and National Governments that have knowingly ignored their plight.  Any right wing or moderate professionals in favor are generally of the silent type, further skewing the perception.  Anecdotally , the amount of people suffering who mention their cannabis use and receive a smile and a wink from the medical fraternity, who then stay silent on the issue is also incredibly frustrating to the patient, further pushing people politically left against “the system”.

It is also important to note that United Future, a minnow in parliament,  polled less than ALCP during the last election on the party vote, and has been a steadfast opponent of Medical Marijuana since inception, and due to a faux pas dating back a decade, has been the target of some fairly harsh and unconstructive  criticism and derision from within the MMJ community.

There is also a strong movement internationally to tout Medicinal Cannabis as a panacea for all sort of ailments, including people who genuinely believe that it is a cure for ALL types of cancer. There is promising research in vitro, (the lab dish) but that has yet to be followed up by useful human trials. I see those making such boastful claims publicly as hindering the entry of MMJ  into the mainstream in NZ.  – More on that another time.

What I hope to contribute, is from a slightly  right wing, (or at least less radical left wing) background, rational argument and debate from a politically neutral standpoint, about applying Medicinal Cannabis to treatments where there is well established evidence in NZ. This includes for HIV or Cancer related Nausea and weight loss, MS related spasticity and pain and  long term Chronic Pain management where the Morphine and Valium families of drugs, with all their risks, side effects and required dose escalations are undesirable. I feel it should also be at least a last resort for the very promising new fields of research as they crop up. Pediatric Epilepsy is all the rage at the moment, with an NZ child Jade Guest having a 90% seizure reduction after moving to Colorado but research is suggesting Arthritis, Osteoporosis and Crohns disease may be breakthrough areas in the near future, so it shouldn’t be pigeon holed to individual conditions as is the case in Many US States,

My personal vision of implementation is that a Prescription for Cannabis goes through  2 medical professionals before approval, effectively a specialist only medicine,  such as your GP recommending use, then the relevant specialist, such as an Oncologist, or Anaesthetist etc giving the final approval.

Seeing as Pete posted an index of his political orientation I will share mine….

8x22  Social moderate………

33 Comments

  1. Welcome to Shane. I’ve offered the option of authoring here to others and he has taken it up.

    I think it will be good to get more variety here, more diverse opinions and topics. I’m happy for Shane to post about medical marijuana. I personally think our Parliament should at least consider the issue but don’t have a fixed view on any outcome.

    Shane’s opinions and comments are his ownand I won’t be dictating or editing anything of his posts (and he can comment freely like anyone). I’m sure we’ll agree on some things and disagree on others, that’s a healthy state for a robust forum.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 14, 2015

    Should be purely a medical decision. Keep idiot politicians (all of them) out of it.

  3. Mike C

     /  January 14, 2015

    @Shamus. So you are a Leftie-Leaner who smokes marijuana. What a surprise. LOL.

  4. Mike C

     /  January 14, 2015

    @SLB. What year did you leave the service of the New Zealand Army?

    • Shane Le Brun

       /  January 14, 2015

      2011, things were going pear shaped with the wife, I was getting more out of shape, 3rd stint in Waiouru….. and the whitepaper sucked a fat one, part of the voluntary exodus in protest of further understaffing…

      • Mike C

         /  January 15, 2015

        When you say your relationship with your wife was going pear-shaped and you got out of shape, did you mean that your wife threatened you with divorce and that you got fat, SLB?

        • No, her condition deteriorated, with many ED visits by ambulance, which is quite a trip from waiouru in excruciating pain, stop trolling.

  5. Brown

     /  January 15, 2015

    Your orientation graph suggests to me that you want communism with personal freedom to tell others to do what you want. I agree with Alan W about medical dope but remain sceptical about its benefits and side effects. If you want dope in any form it seems easy to get and is not going to attract police attention (unless you are speeding) so just fill your boots but avoid machinery while using.

    • Shane Le Brun

       /  January 15, 2015

      @Brown that political scale is international, so even staunch National supporters barely make it to neutral, the right is for Christian Neo cons and Teaparty folk, would it shock you to know I have never voted labour or the greens? (Or ALCP for that matter!)

  6. @SLB great to read this.. many western nations are now allowing ‘natural cannabis’ to be prescribed (by reg. Medical Practice) to patients who benefit from it. Aotearoa/NZ Govt. just seem either unable or unwilling to move away from the status quo. (effectively.. prohibition)

    Interesting there is evidence that medicinal cannabis was widely used in NZ in 19th century.. Mother Aubert supposedly grew it & included it in her line of ‘herbal medicines’.

    Recent polls in NZ show over 80% support for med-use.. ignored by the ‘power brokers’.. why is this so ? methinks there are BIG ‘corporate interests’ pulling their strings.. ?

  7. Northshoredoc

     /  January 15, 2015

    Hi Shane

    Great post. I don’t think you’ll get many medical professional in NZ disagreeing with you in relation to your suggestion regarding the approval process for prescribing a product when it became available.

    The major hurdle will be Medsafe approval where they will be looking for suitable good manufacturing practice and robust efficacy/safety data in order to register a product for availability if I was advising you and yours this is where I would concentrate my efforts in combination with a reputable manufacturer/supplier.

    All the best with your efforts.

    • @Northshoredoc. Thanks, there is a lot of internal debate about grow your own vs giving it to Big Pharma, many well made products have not come from Big Pharma, you can even get transdermal patches similar to Fentanyl/Clonidine in the states, and they all emerged from the dispensary system. I would prefer to not grow, so long as it was 5$ a pop like all the hard stuff my wife has tried so far through Pharmac. Cost control is an issue, as Sativex isn’t impressive from a cost stand point, at least a third of all people in NZ with Neuropathic pain would benefit, if Sativex was just a 5$ GP prescribed medicine.

    • @northshoredoc here is what is possible in Israel, http://www.tikun-olam.info/Edibles and here is what happens when a Dispensary tries to be serious in the states, http://www.marysmedicinals.com/products/ both put GW Pharma’s Sativex at $1000 a month to shame. On another note smoking it should be banned, we have vaporizers that clear out up to 95% cleaner air compared to smoking, so I will have to do an article on that……

  8. Mike C

     /  January 15, 2015

    @SLB. I am no more “A Troll”, than you are “Ex-Army”. I have always been the type of person who asks people questions if I don’t understand exactly what they mean. Black and White is much easier for someone like me, than Grey areas 🙂

    • Rob U

       /  January 17, 2015

      Well said, a good analysis of the situation.
      However when you say
      “My personal vision of implementation is that a Prescription for Cannabis goes through 2 medical professionals before approval, effectively a specialist only medicine, such as your GP recommending use, then the relevant specialist, such as an Oncologist, or Anaesthetist etc giving the final approval.”
      You have described to me the worst case scenario for cannabis law reform for everyone including those that need it for medical purposes. My goal and those at the ALCP is to have cannabis legal for sale in a similar fashion as alcohol, this is the only realistic end for law reform in a just society and will allow access to all without needing to jump through hoops or society having to cope with moneyed up gangs doing the job of distributing drugs.

  9. kiwi_guy

     /  January 15, 2015

    I don’t understand why marijuana can’t be used for medical conditions, as long as it is the medical industry which manufactures and prescribes it – I presume it wouldn’t be like smoking weed, probably just painkiller pills right?

    Even LSD is making a comeback as a potential pain killer or anti anxiety drug. Ecstasy was originally an experimental psychiatric drug.

    There is a hallucinogenic drug used in rituals by natives in the Americas that is suppose to be very effective for treating serious addictions and anxiety/depression. But you have to travel to places in Central or South America to use it.

    • It can be, but it’s wise not to advertise the fact if you are. Suppression of psychoactive substances is part of the state’s protection racket, and if MMJ was legalized then that fact would be quite apparent.

  10. Mike C

     /  January 16, 2015

    There are seemingly quite a few folks in here who “need” medicinal pot. LOL.

  11. My Chronic Pain group has 10 people with CRPS alone, which is widely accepted as the worst pain disorder in existence, we have a woman who had juvenile arthritis, and has been on morphine since age 12, we have people with RA, Lupus, MS, TBI, FBSS, Limb amputation and Fibro, this group Isn’t full of people with a back that plays up every now and then, most have been through the Burwood Pain clinic or the North island equivalent, and routinely have pain that rates worse than child birth, which my wife can confirm, childbirth was a breeze compared to when her back is flaring up!

    • Mike C

       /  January 16, 2015

      @SLB. Is it you, or your wife, who requires Mary-Juana? Your above comment seems to indicate that both you and your spouse need pot to cope with everyday life.

      • I’m pain free, doing it for her and everyone else in the same boat, as they don’t have the time or energy to push for this themselves, let alone the lack of concentration forced upon many as a side effect of Oxy, Valium, and the like.

  12. I saw a TV report recently… opiates are on the rise in USA (both prescription & illegal street use) & yet medical cannabis still has hurdles & hoops to jump through. According to the NZ misuse of drugs act, cannabis is ‘less harmful’ (class C) & yet opiates (class A) are still considered the better option ? please explain ministers Dunne & Coleman.

    I understand that opiates can be prescribed just by a doctors prescription, yet medical cannabis (sativex) needs a referal to a specialist & then final approval by the minister. (bureaucracy plus) In NZ there are no cannabis drugs covered by medsafe ($5) discount. I hear sativex is about $1000/month currently. Its cheaper to buy it, from the black-market OR grown it in the back-yard.. free (if you want to risk it).. “CRAZY MAN !” 😦

    • Heroin is Class A, most other opiates are class B, except codeine, tramadol, which are class C, yes the cost is an issue, I see it as a prescription for sativex is just a get out of jail free card for a having cheaper alternatives.

  13. Mike C

     /  January 17, 2015

    I note that you have made requests under the Official Information Act very recently, asking about Laws and Prosecutions to do with Possession of Cannabis and the use of Cannabis for the treatment of pain.

    Have you or your wife ever been charged with possession or growing of Cannabis?

    • No, we don’t grow and she doesn’t use, but has tried it as a test with awesome results on pain in the past. If we did grow or have some, I would not be sticking my neck out so very publicly, google Billy Mckee and you will see what I mean. As for the requests, I am aware of police not prosecuting up in the coromandel if the GP supports it, Australia is doing that too in many states, and it was suggested in the 2011 Law Commision report on drug reform, (para 89) so I am following up on that on behalf of Green Cross and my Chronic Pain support groups members, I am also asking some sticky questions of ACC with regards to CRPS, as its an incurable disease with very low work participation rates internationally, and I want to shine some light on how many sick people ACC claims to have “rehabilitated”, or exited.

  14. Mike C

     /  January 19, 2015

    @Shane Le Brun. How do you feel about the 17 year old who sold cannabis to the students in one of our New Zealand High Schools for more than 3 months?

    The stupid sucker students who purchased the cannabis from the little prick, are now facing possible expulsion from school.

    • even if it was legal, even ALCP wouldnt agree with 17 year olds using. My stance its a class C drug, to be treated the same as Codeine and valium, If the sales occurred on school property, then yes even the customers deserve a decent suspension. though Expulsion for trying a drug over half of NZ has used may be a stretch.

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