Asking for medicinal cannabis

The Dominion Post had an article yesterday on The patients asking for medicinal cannabis.

Huhana Hickey has multiple sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair since 1996. She is in pain every day.

“I’m on tramadol, morphine, Paramax and codeine.”

The medicines she takes for her condition make her tired, so now she has weaned herself off most of them.

“I’ve had to come off it, but I got all the withdrawals.”

“The tramadol gets me through that bad time and then I get on with it.”

“I’ve got a headache today, I know I’m going to be exhausted tonight, and I know that I’m going to need to take some morphine just to have a break from the pain tonight.”

“I don’t like it, I don’t want to, but I have to, because there isn’t the alternative.”

The alternative, Hickey says, is cannabis.

Her doctors have told her medicinal cannabis could help.

“They are all in favour of it, my neurologist, my pain specialist, they all want it to be legal,” Hickey says.

Under current law they could ask the Ministry of Health to be able to use it.

There is now a powerful lobby seeking more widespread public access to medicinal cannabis. It includes Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills, a paediatrician, who saw a dramatic change in one patient with intractable epilepsy after she got access through her mother to cannabidiol (CBD) oil.

“The child had a 50 per cent reduction in seizures as well as a substantial improvement in quality of life,” Wills told The Dominion Post.

Patients report that cannabis and medicinal cannabis not only relieve pain and stop seizures, they can transform their quality of life.

But Wills –  and the Government – are cautious. The science of medicinal  marijuana “is still in its infancy,” says Wills.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the issue is about giving people “access to a high quality, pharmaceutical product that is safe, reliable and that will alleviate their ailments.”

Dunne tweeted a couple of corrections about the article.

Generally good piece on medicinal cannabis in today, but with two gating errors: my approval is not required for Sativex and 1/2

Australia has not legalised medicinal cannabis – they have merely announced they will permit clinical trials, something already ok here

There will be an interview with Dunne on Q & A this morning about medicinal cannabis, along with CEO of United in Compassion, Toni-Marie Matich

Do you think more New Zealanders should have access to medicinal marijuana?

We interview Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and Toni-Marie Matich, a mother who has started a campaign for medical trials and better cannabis based medicines.

Watch Sunday 9am on TVOne

Matich has been working heroically for a sensible approach to enabling the use of medical cannabis in New Zealand.

Is it too much to ask for medicinal cannabis? As long as it proves to be safe enough then no. It should be a given.

A link to the interview: Dunne open to Medicinal marijuana (13:19)

Leave a comment


  1. Dunne would have us believe he is ‘fully supportive’ of medicinal use.. but in the next breath he sounds like he is putting up increasing numbers of hurdles. He says he is watching what is occurring overseas & that NZ could follow suit.. BUT again he makes it sound like maybe in a few years time, whilst Canada, USA, Aust. & much of EU are allowing trials NOW, why not here ? :/

    • Zedd, these things take time, more time than we would all like, but its not a snap of the fingers, I don’t doubt the effectiveness of MC for various complaints, but what needs trialing is a set dose of X amount of product X for 12 weeks and what improvements are made to condition X, the sideffects are X, X, and X, and contraindications are X,X,X and do not use in conjunction with medicines X, X and X……. its not a light switch!

      • I hear what your saying Shane.
        BUT we do not need to reinvent the wheel here. We can actually take onboard what the Canadians have been doing for 15 years & these other countries have also been doing for several years too.
        Dunne is full of talk.. but little or NO bloody action on it !
        Also the statement that ‘leaf cannabis’ is ruled out, is confusing. These other countries are allowing it for pain relief (vapourising option, not smoking). He sounds like he is still pushing synthetics or pharmaceutical extracts only.
        I also get pissed off, when I hear him saying the Rec-use issue is ‘muddying the waters’ again just an excuse to block it. Most people I know in the law reform movement would prefer all the issues to be debated, BUT we are not using the Medicinal issue, as a ‘foot in the door’ to rec-use. that really just misinformation & B-S 😦

        btw; it was good to hear Toni on Q+A. She is really ‘on to it’ !

        • In most places they are retracting from raw leaf…., Raw leaf is using it as a herbal remedy. We need our own products before trials can take place, such as cheaper mouth sprays, skin patches etc.

  2. Rob

     /  25th October 2015

    I had major surgery in Jan this year. Got sent home with the usual, morphine liquid and caps etc. Morphine plays havoc with me. Makes me constipated for starters so they give me more liquid and pills to combat that and then more pills for other side effects such as nausea. The list goes on. After 3 days I’d had enough. Smoked a small number and bingo. Pain was virtually gone, within 2 days I could take a decent dump and just generally felt better. So I kept up with that for awhile.
    Saw the surgeon 3 weeks later and told him I’d stopped the morphine and he was quite amazed that it was only 3 days. Didn’t tell him why but he told me that I must have a high tolerance for pain. No.
    I don’t mind the high from pot but in those circumstances I most certainly would prefer to go without it.
    I agree with Zedd, they’ve dragged the chain on this for long enough. There are plenty of studies out there. Pull finger

    • Rob

       /  25th October 2015

      And while I agree that we need to get doses correct etc especially for children, I certainly got the correct dose from an easily available product ( if you know the right people) that can be grown in your garden. We’re adults and as far as i’m concerned it’s my body, my choice and I’m harming nobody. They can go to hell with their dilly-dallying as far as I’m concerned.

    • jaspa

       /  25th October 2015

      I am frequently prescribed Tramadol, which makes me vomit uncontrollably for hours on end. Due to this, they prescribed me another drug which stops nausea/vomiting. I was halfway through my second bottle of 100 pills before I decided one day to google the side effects – which included developing a “black hairy tongue” with long term use. WTF!!! There is no herb on earth that would do that to you.

    • There are different opiates for different levels of pain and different side effect profiles, If Morphine didn’t work Tramadol, Oxycodone and Fentanyl are viable alternatives. Cannabis works best for chronic and Neuropathic pain, it wont help much post op, but if you had a bundle of nerves severed………..

      • Rob

         /  25th October 2015

        The problem with a lot of these viable alternatives is their addictive qualities. Side affects can be at times debilitating as well. I was prescribed a number of different pain killers pre op and they may have relieved the pain but the side effects were unpleasent. I did have nerves severed and an area of my body is numb and will remain that way. That in itself is uncomfortable and I find that pot either relieves that symptom or at least helps me ignore it.
        As for post op it certainly helped me because severed nerves or not it was painful and difficult to move around or get comfortable.
        Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t sit around the house smoking pot day in day out but when required it does the job for me and I would prefer to have regular access to a low thc alternative.

  3. @Shane
    The whole issue around Sativex is divisive, to my mind.. Whilst it is slightly better than ‘zero-tolerance’, surely making this pharmaceutical extract the one & only cannabis drug, approved is also ‘muddying the waters’. Is prescribing Sativex (which contains THC) to children with epilepsy really suitable, when the evidence says it is CBD that is the active compound, that treats the condition. Surely they should be allowing a CBD only drug.
    Dunne said himself that he does not want to see drugs that ‘create the high’ available, BUT Sativex contains the compound that does this ! 😦

    Again I wonder whether Dunne is only telling us only part of the story, as he did with Synthetics & ‘legal highs’. Is it possible that there is another ‘conflict of interest’ occurring here ?

    • Rob

       /  25th October 2015

      Well big pharma certainly doen’t like the idea of people producing their own medicine.

      • jaspa

         /  25th October 2015

        I think this is it, Rob. I grow lots of medicinal herbs in my garden – plants like valerian, marshmallow, etc etc, and I would love to add this plant to my collection. Some of them, e.g. Lobelia (yes, that common favourite in old ladies’ hanging baskets) are restricted legally – ie I may grow it, extract it, use it myself but not supply it to others. I am aware of this, so, fine. It can certainly be dangerous for people who don’t know what they are doing.

        I am more interested in the roots of the cannabis plant, which may have analgesic qualities and are probably just thrown away by most growers. But how to obtain them? I am picking that walking in to the local gang pad and asking for roots may not work out for me. 🙂

        However, it is a very tiny percentage of people who grow and use medicinal herbs when they can just use pills instead. And I don’t see many people growing tobacco in their gardens, when the cost of tobacco must be quite prohibitive.

        • Rob

           /  25th October 2015

          “I am picking that walking in to the local gang pad and asking for roots may not work out for me.”
          You never know, they might see it as a community service.
          Pills are convenient I guess. We go to a doctor and put our trust in them as we’re in a hurry or uninformed of the alternatives or perhaps afraid to try them because of legal or moral issues or simply not knowing how to obtain them. The only suggestion I’d have in obtaining what you want is to ask people you trust. You may be surprised at the extent of the ‘underground’ (for want of a better word) that actually exists.

        • Robby

           /  25th October 2015

          Growing both cannabis and tobacco is very easy Jaspa, it’s the preparation of the finished product that is difficult. To dry & cure tobacco properly takes at least a month, and several steps. With cannabis (for recreational/pain relief purposes), you can have a usable product in under a week.

    • No using Sativex on the kids is not suitable, and UICNZ is working on that, the costs are just too high, as is the THC content.

  4. btw; i was surprised to hear the comments of Greg O’Connor (Police Union) who said that he had been to Holland & Colorado & seen it first hand. He went on to say that the debate needs to be from a Health perspective only. He said that it needed to be balanced between the ‘harm of the drug’ & the ‘harm of prohibition on society’ (Gangs, Black-markets). ‘shock. horror.. i totally agree’ He sounded like he would support ‘some level of tolerance’ to cannabis, rather than ‘zero-tolerance’
    Its ridiculous that people are going to the black-market to get cannabis for medicinal use, because getting Sativex legally is more expensive (>$1000/mth) & frankly is probably more difficult too
    Dunne needs to get of his ‘High Horse’ & look at this from a ‘purely compassionate’ rather then his moralistic view. People are genuinely suffering here.. this is not just some theoretical debating point, to be won at any cost 😦

  5. There is one other thing that Dunne often says (sticks in my mind); we need to divide these issues, into Med & Rec-uses (unlock them ?) BUT this is ‘double talk’ for DIVIDE & CONQUER !
    I read that the biggest detriment, to the pro-cannabis law reform movement, is the fracturing of the groups : UICNZ, ALCP, Greens, Green-cross, NORML etc.
    Surely we would be better to find common ground where we CAN work together, to get ANY positive results. I agree the priority should be on Medicinal use.. BUT saying we only want this & nothing else, end of story; is giving Dunne & Co. what they want; Power over us
    As long as these politicians keep stalling the debate, we will be going ‘nowhere fast’, whilst nearly every other OECD moves forward 😦
    We are not the enemy, just because we want rec. use legally regulated too.

  6. Robby

     /  25th October 2015

    Well personally I think it should be decriminalised altogether. I get so sick of hearing all the BS from Dunne & his ilk about how bad it is, and how society will go to hell overnight if it were to happen. It has pretty much happened already, like Rob said, “You may be surprised at the extent of the ‘underground’ (for want of a better word) that actually exists.”.
    If people want it for recreational use, it is very easy to obtain already, so lets do these poor kids who actually need it a favour, and start clinical trials NOW.

  7. Robby

     /  25th October 2015

    Greetings all.
    Having just watched ‘Dinosaur Dunne’ give his opinion on Q&A, I thought maybe I should give mine. I have nearly forty years of life experience to date, and have used cannabis both recreationally, and medicinally within this time. So here is my testament.
    As a teenager, I sat through the usual drug ‘education’ sessions, that are part of the ‘life skills’ curriculum at any high school in NZ. These involved some ex ‘user’, who was politely referred to as a ‘drug educator’, telling us how bad all drugs were, and how we should ‘moderate’ our alcohol consumption. He showed us a scary video or two warning of the dangers of using pot also. The consensus amongst everyone present was that he was ‘full of shit’.
    I can remember clearly the first time myself and three of my friends smoked pot. We went out of our way to score some. As they say ,“Forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter”. Anyone who says marijuana is an antisocial drug has obviously never tried it. We spent the afternoon laughing our arses off at nothing in particular. It was great fun, & two weeks later none of us had grown milk producing nipples, which reinforced our earlier opinion of the ‘drug educator’.
    It is often said that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’, and I agree completely with this. The reason this is true, is because ‘drug educators’ tell lies to scare teenagers. “If he lied about pot, he must have lied about meth too…..”. I was fortunate enough not to fall into this trap, but one of my three friends wasn’t. Rest in peace Davo…..
    For the next 6 years, I was ‘blazed’ pretty much every day. In spite of my ‘addiction’, I managed to complete an apprenticeship, find a wonderful girlfriend (who is now my wife of 15 years), and purchase a house. When my she fell pregnant, I gave up the weed cold turkey. Time to grow up Robby, you’ll be a father soon. And despite what the ‘experts’ might tell you, it was ridiculously easy. I have seen footage of junkies ‘coming down’, and it was nothing like that for me.

    Around nine years after the birth of my eldest son, I had an accident that split the cartilage inside one of my knees almost in half. It felt pretty unpleasant, to put it mildly. Imagine someone driving a wedge into the side of your knee with a sledgehammer, and you’d be coming close to how it felt. If you were to remove the repeated hits from the hammer, and make the pain constant, you’d be even closer. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It makes me nauseous even thinking about it. I was prescribed Oxynorm, Tramadol, and Diclofenac to alleviate the pain while I awaited surgery. The first two did alleviate the pain, but turned me into a ‘zombie’, for lack of a better word. I would wake up in agony, take two of each, then have to wait half an hour for the pain to go away. The worst side effect was being completely ‘baked’ as soon as the drugs took hold. A close second was having to put my finger up my arse to try and have a crap. To this day I struggle to understand how either of the above drugs can be abused recreationally. As for the Diclofenac, even with the level of pain I was in, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I had been warned it was very hard on the stomach, and I was already having ‘digestion issues’ from the other drugs.
    After just over a week of taking the legal medication mentioned above (and having two rather painful shits, instead of my regular daily), a ‘guy I knew’ stopped by to see how I was. In typical stoner fashion, he told me, “Just have a spliff ya miserable bastard, that’ll sort you out!”. Well those probably weren’t his exact words, but it was something like that. He was right, I was miserable. It was around 1pm, my morning opiates were fast wearing off, the kids were at school, and my wife was out getting groceries. I had nothing to lose, so I said “Why not?!”.

    Having not smoked pot for nearly a decade, and having never used it for pain relief before, I was surprised it didn’t hit me a lot harder. The relief was immediate. The pain was still there, but all of a sudden it wasn’t so overwhelming anymore. I felt a little lightheaded, but nowhere near as wasted as I would half an hour after taking two Oxynorms. I smiled again for the first time since the accident.
    Needless to say, myself and ‘the guy I know’ sorted out my ‘medication’ between ourselves.
    I waited another four months for my surgery, and smoked pot every day up to it. What I didn’t do was take any more of those horrible pharmaceutical grade opiates. Trying to push a pinecone out your arse is almost as bad as having a wedge driven through your knee……


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