Life and Death and Cannabis

Helen Kelly has a guest post at The Standard on Life and Death and Cannabis.

I am taking Cannabis Oil to manage my pain as my lung cancer takes over my body. It’s sort of as simple as that really. For some people talking about dying is confronting but actually talking about it allows us to think about how it happens – it is actually as much a social event as a physical one and knowing someone is comfortable, getting good treatment and pain relief is very much part of the social dimension as the physical one.

She then details what is required to get to use a cannabis derived medical product. And what she is having to try because that’s such a rigmarole.

I have been taking Kytruda (the drug all the publicity is about – a break though for melanoma and has had some success with lung cancer but not with me). I have paid for is (this is what Kiwisaver will be for in the future – to subsidise our underfunded health system). It is completely experimental and the Doctors admit it – they don’t know who it works with, why, exactly how or really even how to administer it the most efficiently – but oh fill me up with it – exactly because I have nothing to lose. I have also had whole brain radiation – massively dangerous – huge side effects possible – I have been lucky – but I can’t take cannabis?

What she wants:

 I would like a referendum on the issue at the next election – and I am hoping a Bill might be sponsored to that effect  (collecting signatures is not necessary and John Key has shown with the flag – you just need a Bill). It could be run at the election to save money and my bet is it will be overwhelmingly supported.

I think we could change this situation with a little more push – a few leaders speaking out in support, an exposure of the current system refusal by refusal and with real stories of people with real illness just wanting to live the end of their life with a bit of dignity.

It’s very sad that a dying person is having to hope that our politicians will stop ducking for cover, avoiding addressing something that many other countries are advancing on, including the US, Canada and Australia.

It’s bloody stupid that one of the mostly widely used drugs in the country cannot legally be used by someone in the last months of their life.

The whole post is well worth reading – especially by our politicians.

Life and Death and Cannabis.

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34 Comments

  1. Great Post.

    Reply
  2. I reckon I can be named amongst those most opposed to free use of drugs for recreational purposes having had to deal with the consequences of others use of drugs to get high. No I am not aginst people enjoying themselves but the negative consequences of recreational drug use outweighs the so-called benefits. That said, if the use of such drugs do have an ameliorating effect on terminal patients with cancer and the like, the I would help get the patient access to the drug and to hell with the consequences for me. People deserve to die with dignity.

    Reply
    • @ bjm1 – I understand caution regarding drugs.

      Do you consider alcohol a recreational drug?

      I do. I consider it the most harmful and dangerous one.

      I’m very sorry it’s taken Helen Kelly’s illness to bring medical cannabis to public attention again; and I will be equally or more sorry if the discussions and (dare I say) probable law changes are restricted only to medical cannabis.

      PG sums up the current situation very concisely with two words, “bloody stupid”

      If New Zealand was anything like the country it once was we’d be leading the world on this along with a stack of other things.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  8th January 2016

        Medical use would be a start !

        I wish that I could make people see that decriminalising it for social use is not the same as legalising it, but some people can’t or won’t see the difference. I use the example of speeding, which isn’t legal but which will almost always result in a fine. Fine people if they’re caught; the country has a bit of money instead of spending it on court cases and the rest, someone doesn’t have a conviction so isn’t potentially unemployable, everyone wins. The person goes on their way, the country saves money…it’s time, surely.

        Alcohol is indeed a drug, but that can be a red herring. I know few people who drink to get drunk, but anyone who’s smoked dope can’t claim to be doing it because they like the taste as people who like wine do-or because it’s a nice refreshing thing on a hot day, like a cold beer. Yes, I have smoked it when I was doing my first degree.And it was with the aim of being stoned.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  8th January 2016

          so r u still stoned …or !

          Reply
          • haha Blazer I wondered if your usename refers to it. 🙂 I am for total legalization of cannabis for all purposes. For over 18.

            Reply
          • kittycatkin

             /  9th January 2016

            No, Blazer, it has been some years since I was an undergraduate. I am no longer at university, either as an undergraduate or graduate student.

            Reply
        • actually, reading into the subculture in the states people are begginning to become connoisseurs of the different terpenoid profiles, taken to the extreme….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca1UyiveO2Q

          Reply
          • “Medical use would be a start !”

            This is debateable. This is highly debateable. The problem is a significant propensity of governments to “fob off” or postpone issues by partially addressing or partially legislating them. Medicinal and recreational cannabis must be addressed together – perhaps along with other recreational drugs?

            And Miss Kitty, are you suggesting it should be decriminalized but still subject to a fine? “Fine people if they’re caught”? Caught what? Smoking decriminalized marijuana!?

            @ SLB – Class as always you! I remember seeing an item on TV where legalisation in Washington State (I think?) has led to a significant industry in a) cultivating and blending mixes – real connoisseur stuff – and b) Cannabis factory “tasting tours” a la Vineyards. (What would be the equivalent of “Vineyard” for a dope growing ‘farm’?)

            Check out the latest alcohol industry advertising! Admittedly, it’s for 0.0% Citrus Lager but they use a doctor in an operating theatre, “Yes, you can have a beer here!” Have these people no scruples whatsoever? (Yeah, I know, its just a bit of fun … like a … I won’t say that)

            Reply
            • I disagree, throwing in the lot of the truly sick and disabled with a bunch of people who just want an alternative recreational substance is doing the sick/disabled disservice, weve got kids getting their 3rd lobe removed from their brain… MS patients half blind and wheelchair bound, chronic pain folk having close call overdoses with Opiate medications. We have a conservative government, just remember JKs recent comments about beneficiaries and drugs, he wouldn’t be caught dead saying anything similar about MS patients.

            • SLB – Weeeell, maybe?

              I might equally argue that discussing the use of a substance in our society and declining to discuss its recreational use for the sake of tender-footing around the sick & disabled’s use of it is equally doing them a disservice?

              I’d be interested to know what people who are using it medicinally think?

              I reckon we should cover the substance and all its various uses.
              It’s more efficient use of Parliamentary time aside from anything else.

              Take your point about JK conservatism though.

            • kittycatkin

               /  9th January 2016

              I was envisaging medical use being the way into legalising it-given the number who smoke it, there seems little sense in it being illegal as the courts have better things to do, i’m sure.

              If it was decriminalised, the people caught with x amount would be fined as one is for an out of date registration or WOF but wouldn’t have an actual conviction. Neither of those is legal, but they’re not crimes like burglary. Tangent; is there anything more maddening than having to pay a fine that’s twice the cost of the registration, or whatever it is (it was a long time ago that I had this happen) and still, of course, having to pay the registration ?

              This makes so much sense to me, but it seems impossible to make some people see the difference between something being decriminalised and it being legal.

            • @ kck – “medical use being the way into legalising it” will simply take too long, consigning yet another ‘generation’ to the “I’ve got an absurd, unjust conviction” bin.

              “people caught with x amount”. I don’t really see the point? If it shouldn’t be illegal – as you say – why have a category “decriminalised”? And if it is either legal or decriminalised why have a fine? Why go on wasting the police resources we are wasting now on this pettiness?

              Is this to catch ‘dealers’ who have large amounts?

              The only rationale I can see for decriminalisation with a fine is during a (brief as possible) transition period from illegal to fully legal when dope is “commodified” or “industrialised”, allowing the government to collect tax at every station of the cross (as to speak). Ha! Maybe even establish a new SOE?

              If this is the case there must be a less than x (< x) amount for which no fine is payable. An allowed personal use and personal growing amount.

  3. kittycatkin

     /  8th January 2016

    I mean that speeding results in a fine rather than a sentence if the leadfoot is caught !

    Reply
  4. Pete Brian

     /  8th January 2016

    It’s kind of about where we draw the line on what drugs are illegal and what drugs aren’t. Take a look at alcohol which we have made legal. Alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug there is, it has huge negative effects on society, no one can dispute this. Then take a look at cannabis which has no negative effects on society but yet we have chosen to make it illegal. The hypocrisy is unbelievable. Cannabis will be legal it’s just a matter of when. I’m predicting within the next 5 years.

    Reply
    • Sure do hope so Pete or I might stage a one man riot !!! 5 years is 3 years too long.

      Hell, and I don’t even use the stuff!

      The KvG case in Kaikohe blew me away on this last year. A bloody judge saying how difficult it was (“poor him”) to uphold the law but he was obliged to do so. Damn well should be difficult to uphold unjust laws! He also did it (sentencing) about as bloody badly as it could possibly be done.

      Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  9th January 2016

      Cannabis does do harm,Pete, as alcohol does, and it would be naive for me to say that it doesn’t. People spend money on it that could/should be spent on their families, drive stoned (and that’s just as dangerous as drunk driving) and can become dependent upon it. I am in favour of it being legalised, but don’t delude myself about its misuse-any drug can be misused.

      Reply
  5. insider

     /  8th January 2016

    I’m not sure why being in the last few months of life gives the right to choose whatever you want to take. What next? Medical meth? Medical LSD? Hell let’s suspend all laws for such people.

    I don’t object to properly tested and manufactured pharma based on cannabis as long as they are subject to the same process and safeguards as any other medicine. If the efficacy of cannabis meds are so clear it should be easy to get them approved, just as new extracts of opium and cocaine are.

    Sadly much of this push on ‘medicinal’ cannabis I think is cannabis legalisation in drag where benefits and supposed ‘naturalness’ of cannabis are overplayed around highly emotive cases, in an attempt to avoid usual medicinal scrutiny and normalise its wider use.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th January 2016

      “I’m not sure why being in the last few months of life gives the right to choose whatever you want to take.”

      Then use your brain and think. What harm can such a person do to themselves or anyone else in those circumstances? Therefore what justification is there for any legal sanctions?

      Or are you just a fool with a rule?

      Reply
      • + 10 to the power of X squared.

        Reply
      • insider

         /  9th January 2016

        One of the reasons we ban drugs is because we don’t like the effects they have on society. Why do those effects suddenly disappear when someone is ill?

        I have a friend declared a palliative case three years ago and is now the healthiest he’s ever been he says. According to you he should have been able to dope up all this time without regard or consequence. Where is the line you are going to draw?

        If you want to legalise it then say so and make it for everyone. But don’t hide your agenda behind some faux sympathy and petty insults.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  9th January 2016

          It’s obvious to anyone who bothers to look that the effects on both individuals and society from banning cannabis use are infinitely worse than from the drug itself. Even many senior law enforcement officials have had second thoughts about their enforcement policies which in many cases now exist in name only if that.

          So, yes, the cannabis law introduced at the behest of Nixon’s disastrous War on Drugs needs to change for everyone.

          However, it is equally obvious that circumstances are different in chronic and terminally ill patients and highly addictive and powerful drugs like morphine are permitted and prescribed exactly because there is no possible harm to the individual or society in those circumstances. The line is already drawn, no doubt in varying places by different individuals and doctors as they see fit.

          There is no reason you have given or I can see for cannabis to be treated differently.

          Reply
    • Why on earth should cannabis be under the auspices of Big Pharma? it does not need testing for safety, having been in use all over the planet for a couple of thousand years. There is no lethal dose. (unlike say aspirin, paracetamol, salt, or water).
      If anyone can grow it easily in their garden, and take it by any route of administration they see fit, than why stop them? Sativex is a cannabis Big Pharma product, and its cost is ridiculously prohibitive for any person. It would be cheaper to buy overpriced ounces on the black market. But if people can grow it for nothing, then why bill anyone, including taxpayers, anything at all? As for medical vs recreational; well here is one problem. In the US states where it is legal, the weed-prescribing GPs will prescribe freely for anyone who asks for it, for say, anxiety, depression, insomnia, to assist relaxation, whatever. Maybe for similar reasons many people use (as opposed to abuse) alcohol, in other words. So labelling such use of cannabis as ‘medical’ is rather silly IMO.
      Just let adults make their own decisions about what they put into their bodies and how, just like with everything else out there, food included.

      Reply
      • There are risks, Mouldy product has lead to patients getting chest infections which progress to life threatening pneumonia etc.

        Reply
  6. kiwi guy

     /  9th January 2016

    The usual lies from the usual cultural marxists pop up on this thread about alcohol being as bad as or worse than weed.

    Anyone can enjoy a drink or few over dinner or an evening. On weed you are stoned, period.

    Of course the usual druggies on here will tell us all about their wonderful druggie lifestyle ,about how its harmless and even beneficial, they promise they won’t let their kids get involved – I guess they get high while the kids are in bed…?

    Reply
    • Robbers Dog

       /  9th January 2016

      “Anyone can enjoy a drink or few over dinner or an evening.”

      So you admit to being a drug user then KG?

      Reply
    • No question about it KG, alcohol is worse than weed.
      In societal terms, a whole big bunch worse.

      I don’t see why the offspring shouldn’t get involved when they are of a suitable age? People teach their children to drink responsibly. What’s the difference?

      There’ll be a stack of people on here (I dare say) who started smoking tobacco underage (like me). People do this. Try things. Experiment.

      The unfortunate thing about judicial laws is they don’t always equate with natural law or adequately cover natural human tendencies. (This can be fixed too)

      I see you’ve found another photo of me below – damnation!!!
      What has happened to privacy and ethics with this interweb thing?

      Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  9th January 2016

      @KG

      Here’s someone who enjoyed a quiet few drinks over an evening:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/inspire-me/75745173/quiet-21st-for-student-nearly-killed-by-binge-drinking

      and some advice from UK Health chiefs on the merits of alcohol:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/world/75742898/Any-alcohol-is-risky-UK-health-chiefs

      Of course the usual alcoholics on here will tell us all about their wonderful piss-head lifestyle, about how its harmless and even beneficial, they promise they won’t let their kids get involved – I guess they drink while the kids are in bed…?

      Reply
  7. kiwi guy

     /  9th January 2016

    Druggie Trash:

    Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  9th January 2016

    good post PG

    i wish helen well :/

    Reply
  9. This cause needs more leaders to speak out as Helen has, who would carry the torch if Helen passed next week? There is not one willing to speak out nationally, though plenty of people Internationally, eg Richard Branson etc. A true battler to the very end is Helen.

    Reply

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