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.

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  1. I don’t think that it’s reasonable to blame the state for Gareth’s condition since he is ignoring the legislation and making his own medicine.

    The cancer industry is hugely profitable for big pharma, and the state is unlikely to want to put its revenue at risk by acting in the public interest on this, especally as a change in stance would show that there’s nothing to justify its opposition to MMJ.

    • kittycatkin

       /  29th June 2015

      This seems muddled thinking. The state surely buys medicine from the pharmaceutical makers, so would have every incentive to use an effective cheaper option, It’s not the state’s revenue at risk, I think !

      • I’m fairly sure Pharmac have a requirement to get maximum health benefits from minimum cost, within what is legally allowed to be supplied.

  2. As long as all the irrational hysteria is being constantly pushed about CANNABIS, then this issue will continue to go nowhere, fast.
    I think it was time that all people with terminal illnesses, were given a medicinal/therapeutic exemption to use cannabis (if they benefit from it). BUT the almost total ‘zero-tolerance’ approach that the ‘power brokers’ in Aotearoa/NZ still continue to push is actually causing ‘Harm Maximization’ for these people ! The guy apparently has only months to live & he lives in fear of being prosecuted for taking an alternative to the ‘drugs’ that Big Pharm. sanction 😦
    CRAZY MAN !!

    • kittycatkin

       /  29th June 2015

      Do you really think that he’s crazy ? This seems to contradict everything else that you said.

      • NO.. I think the system is ‘CRAZY’, that would potentially see a terminally ill person locked up, maybe for the rest of his life, for trying to find an alternative way to relieve his suffering (even if the outdated/irrational law says its still ‘illegal’) 😦

  3. John Schmidt

     /  29th June 2015

    There has been massive efforts put into pallative care in New Zealand through services provided by Hospice and other service providers. They have a much more holistic view on end of life focusing on the things that provide a “Good Death”.
    I don’t understand why this service is being ignored by a few who go on to publicly seek alternatives that are invariably Canabis based promoting outcomes that are often not medically proven. I cannot help but think that the motives of these people are not what it seems that they have always dabbled in the Canabis world and their wants once diagnosed with a terminal disease is simply an an extension of that life.
    I am in this boat having only months to live and I am so grateful for the care that Hospice is providing me.

    • kittycatkin

       /  29th June 2015

      I’m sorry to hear that, John. But I can understand those who think that anything is worth a try-except in cases like a youngish woman whom we knew and who refused conventiona treatment for breast cancer in favour of Brother John or whatever his name was in Brazil. She could have been alive and well today, and her money would still be hers and not in his greedy paws. But he is a known charlatan. I can really understand people trying other experimental things that MAY work.

    • madmaks

       /  29th June 2015

      I don’t think Gareth has given up his fight yet John, or the right to choose his own path. To make an inference that it’s only the over 50% of the population that have tried Cannabis that would use their terminal disease as a excuse to obtain it, is quite frankly something Peter Dunne would say.
      The thing I take away from seeing Gareth is his eyes, they still have the sparkle of hope and as wonderful Hospice care is, with fantastic staff, you don’t go there to get better and it’s clear to see Gareth is still fighting for his life, so lets make this a medical issue not a moral one.

  4. Brown

     /  30th June 2015

    Its ironic that the govt will shortly, I suspect, allow you to kill yourself with assistance but not treat yourself medically with / without assistance. What a screwed up world we live in. The reality is that this guy is doing what he wants and the plod won’t touch him because he’s not making a fuss – until now. The “locked up” comment about using cannabis in this way is just plain stupid.

  5. two final points (from I&I):

    1) It is not true that most cannabis activists are using medicinal use as an excuse to open the floodgates to personal use. btw; under prohibition, NZ already has amongst the highest level of use in the world

    2) The Govt. have talked about wide ranging debate & review of drug laws (after release of Law Comm. review report) BUT neither has really materalised. In fact they seem to have just ‘cherry-picked’ the parts that continue with the status quo & ignored the ‘recommendations’ for law reform; ie Medicinal trials & Decrim. personal use.
    Why is this so ? :/


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