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.

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31 Comments

  1. Pickled Possum

     /  26th September 2016

    I have a family member who is using medical cannabis and is very aware of the illegality of using the drug, to the point of paranoia.

    But having used all the drugs that the doctor has provided and apart from some terrible side affects, they have not eased the pain in any way shape or form.
    Since trying cannabis all the pain has gone and the quality of life of this family member is now most joyful.

    The times the M.C. is not available we notice a decline in the quality of life, along with the return of pain butt all family members do not want to grow it because of condemnation of some parts of society towards MC plus the paranoia and of course the possibility of very serious jail time … so are at the mercy of availability when some one else may grow it.

    It seems almost criminal to have to use synthetic drugs like methadone or opiate drugs when M.C.can be grown in the veg garden spray & chemical free, is outlawed.

    What a COS this and every government has been concerning MC IMHO.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  26th September 2016

      Well said, Possum. It is very evil when common sense is outlawed by the politicians and judiciary.

      Reply
    • Bill

       /  26th September 2016

      “I have a family member who is using medical cannabis and is very aware of the illegality of using the drug, to the point of paranoia.”

      I know many and some that have passed away, who use or did use MC, most are the sickest of the sick. Even under the threat of death, the paranoia of breaking the law held some back from treating themselves, to a point where only a divine miracle could help.

      While having the up most respect for Doctors, there are many times where they just have nothing more to offer and this is not just confined to terminal conditions.

      I find it every sad to deny the right to ones own self-defence or a more comfortable passing. while pretending the wheels will fall off society as we know it.

      Reply
  2. The fact that they use ‘marijuana’ (slang) in context of medicinal use of Cannabis, totally removes any credibility in this ‘report’. methinks they use this word, to append all the negative stereotypical demonisation/misinfo. & ‘reefer madness’ B-S to it.

    The other issue being that this Govt. only legally allow Sativex (extract) from GW pharma in UK (>$1000/script), without further jumping through extra hoops.. when they could grow it here & make a similar product in NZ for a fraction of the cost (as PP sez).

    It seems Dunne & Co. are still just looking for any excuses to stick to their extremely narrow approach, which still effectively borders on ZERO-tolerance 😦

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  26th September 2016

      It’s all about perception and arse protection by the establishment, Zedd. If they can make it look as if it comes out of an international accepted medicine source instead of the bush they don’t care what it costs. That’s why the Big Four accounting firms cream profits from the taxpayers worldwide.

      Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  26th September 2016

      Why grow the shit at all zedd when they could synthesise thc for medicinal purposes in the same way they do with opium derivatives

      Reply
      • Bill

         /  26th September 2016

        Opium derivatives are as the name suggests, derived from Opium. (A PLANT )
        Tasmania grows about 50% of the worlds pharmaceutical supply.
        Where as, Methadone is a synthetic Opiate, has this brought about an end of the use of real Opiates. The short answer is no, because there’s just something’s the real ones do better.

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  26th September 2016

          Bill, so are you saying synthetic cannabinoids sold under prescription for pain relief are not as effective as a big dooby?

          Reply
          • Bill

             /  26th September 2016

            YEP and I don’t just mean spice and we all know how that went.

            Sativex is not synthetic and having good results for some. ( PRICE )

            Marinol synthetic 100% THC very limited uptake due to side effects of 100% THC, go figure.

            Acomplia synthetic weight loss, used the pathway that gives you the munchies to suppress it. A sort of anti Cannabis drug, but they had to take it of the market due to the high numbers committing suicide.

            Just because its man-made doesn’t make it better or safer.

            Big Dooby? Just how big a you talking, always up for a Big DOOB on my own time Mate.

            Reply
          • Bill

             /  26th September 2016

            YEP and I don’t just mean spice and we all know how that went.

            Sativex is not synthetic and having good results for some. ( PRICE )

            Marinol synthetic 100% THC very limited uptake due to side effects of 100% THC, go figure.

            Acomplia synthetic weight loss, used the pathway that gives you the munchies to suppress it. A sort of anti Cannabis drug, but they had to take it of the market due to the high numbers committing suicide.

            Just because its man-made doesn’t make it better or safer.

            Big Dooby? Just how big a you talking, always up for a Big DOOB on my own time Mate.

            Reply
          • Bill

             /  26th September 2016

            What synthetic drugs in particular you meaning

            Reply
            • Conspiratoor

               /  26th September 2016

              There is a suite of them bill, each one designed for a different illness . I could list them but I sense you already know

            • Bill

               /  26th September 2016

              Has to try CO Has to try.

      • @Con

        I’ve read that ‘synthetic THC’ (Marinol etc.) have been proved to be, not as effective as the natural herb & its extracts, because there are many ‘cannabinoids’ (CBDs) that are active ingrediants, in the plant… not just the THC 🙂

        btw; whilst a ‘big dooby’ maybe effective as a pain killer.. its not the preferred option for medicinal/therapeutic use, esp. for children with Epilepsy etc.
        Smoking it, actually burns the active ingrediants & diminishes their effects. Vapourising is apparently a better way ?

        Reply
    • Bill

       /  26th September 2016

      “It seems Dunne & Co. are still just looking for any excuses to stick to their extremely narrow approach, which still effectively borders on ZERO-tolerance”

      I think many are duped into thinking we elect the likes of Dunne to represent us, when they show through their actions it couldn’t be further from the truth.

      Getting the people to endorse you is just the final part of their selection, a face you trust to do the biding of those who hold real power. The rich and not so famous, but their company’s certainly are.

      This is a country where you get a knighthood for making Beer and jail for giving Cannabis to a sick dying friend.

      Reply
      • Dunne can’t change anything much without National agreement and that is where the main problem lies.

        Reply
        • Bill

           /  26th September 2016

          I’ve never thought for one minute he he could or would change anything.

          The reason he deserves flack in my mind is how many years this man has held this role and of his own choosing I’ll add.

          To still find eight years after Sativex gained approval for the first three patients. A system that does nothing for patients, under the guise of protecting the youth is a joke. Let alone the rest of the issues Cannabis prohibition raises.

          Reply
        • Bill

           /  27th September 2016

          Peter Dunne talking to a packed house, love his three pillars approach.

          Reply
  3. The other problem being a general apathy to pushing reforms. We need a ‘million man (& woman) march/hikoi’ to the steps of parliament, waving placards & demanding change; recent polls show >75% support Med-use.
    “What do we want ? LAW REFORM, When do we want it ” NOW !!”

    But you would more likely, just get a few hundred (committed activists) if your lucky. Which ‘Team Key’ & Dunne would just ignore.. because they think they know better than everyone, as per usual 😦

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  26th September 2016

      The match up is between a few sick people in NZ and a drug enforcement industry in the US which regards any backsliding as the equivalent sabotage as a nuclear free policy was to the US defence industry.

      Reply
      • @AW

        I tend to agree.. it was the USA who started this B-S (Marihuana Tax Act 1937) that led to the global WAR on Drugs.. now they are at the forefront of reforms; 23+ states allow Med-use (inc. raw herb), but their DEA/Federal law is still applying the ‘Jack-boots’ & demanding others follow suit.. now if that ain’t a double-standard, I dont know what is.. FFS 😦 They still have it under schedule #1 : most open to abuse & NO known medicinal or therapeutic use/value 😦

        Its interesting that Dunne has stated we cant allow cannabis law reform, because it contravenes UN convention 1961.. BUT the opening preamble clearly says Medical & Scientific uses are exempt from any bans & another clause talks about allowing USE; ‘under legal authority’ which to some people means strict ‘Legal Regulation’ NOT Prohibition ! :/

        …and the dayz go by.. 🙂

        Reply
  4. Bill

     /  26th September 2016

    I don’t think things will change until people realize they have and are being lied to, on the subject of Cannabis.

    In the US the FDA can’t test Cannabis because its a Botanical, not a Pharmaceutical.
    While some might think that an FDA approval of Sativex would then be impossible in the U.S. while still continuing to defend its classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, may indeed find it’s not that difficult after all.

    As it turns out, Sativex has been given its own scientific name: nabiximols. Like other Cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, such as Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone), this allows Sativex to be scheduled separately from cannabis.

    Most countries where Sativex is sold have used this approach in order to maintain a ban on the medical use of Cannabis.

    GW pharmaceuticals state Sativex is a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD derived in the form of a whole plant extract, their Grow-Op pulls 5 tons of Cannabis material per grow and converts it to oil.

    You can call it what you like, but it’s still just Cannabis and it grows fast, at a low cost to produce.

    Reply
  5. “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.”

    Vegetable matter is best consumed raw, juicing is your best bet if you want your cannabis to retain its medicinal value.

    Reply
    • Bill

       /  26th September 2016

      “Vegetable matter is best consumed raw, juicing is your best bet if you want your cannabis to retain its medicinal value.”
      Very good ways to take it for some, but can be hard to consume in the amounts needed went you’re really sick.

      Reply
  6. Bill

     /  26th September 2016

    @Conspiratoor don’t seem to be able to reply above, Which synthetic prescription Cannabis drugs are you referring to and how bigger DOOB we talking.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  27th September 2016

      You appear to be all over the place on this pal. I’m finding it hard to get a fix on what it is you actually want. How about simply defining the problem then giving us the solution. We can take it from there. Cheers,c

      Reply
      • Bill

         /  27th September 2016

        Had trouble posting last night, legalise,regulate and let everyone just move on with their lives. If I seem all over the place I’m sorry but the consequences of the Governments stand are far reaching and don’t help people who suffer daily, from various medical conditions.

        From my own experience I’ve found Doctors and Hospitals great in an emergency, but not so good when you have ongoing conditions. I broke my back and neck in a motorcycle accident at 20, suffered the painful process of getting on with life and found out first hand how a condition like this, can affect all healthcare that follows.

        When your healthcare provider decides that any new complaint is somehow related to your accident and in my case, this stopped me being diagnosed for bowel disease and a Prostate Tumor, until it was an emergency situation.

        My use of Medical Cannabis had me facing charges in court for cultivation, because I didn’t want to be on the street looking for it. The judge was quite good in my case, he remarked that other than my Cannabis use, I was a model citizen and wished me luck for one of my upcoming surgeries.

        I like to approach life from a half full perspective, as there’s nothing more humbling than seeing what others have to face on a daily basis when you become entangled in the health machine. Do I think Cannabis or Alcohol use for that matter, is a good way to judge a persons character, no, just like I don’t believe I need to beg for forgiveness for trying to improve my lot.

        Reply
  7. patupaiarehe

     /  26th September 2016

    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

    Just my opinion, but doesn’t saying that only medical use should be allowed, mean that they are showing exactly the same disregard for the rights of recreational users, as the government currently shows them? Sorry Shane, but NORML are not the enemy. The problem with arguing for medical use only, is that opponents will say that the system will be ‘abused’ (and it will). IMHO, what is needed is complete decriminalization, some honest drug education in our high schools, and easier access to help for those who have a drug problem.

    Reply
    • Bill

       /  27th September 2016

      @patupaiarehe, totally agree its been groups like NORML that were pointing the facts about Medical Cannabis, long before it was a fashionable subject to talk about.

      Personally I hate the premise a patient with a Sir in front of his name, or having been a sportsman, makes their lives are any more valuable and deserving of recognition than anyone else, for having used Cannabis medically or for any reason for that matter.

      The fair access to Medical Cannabis is a given, don’t blame and single out people affected by prohibition, even if some are a bit fringe, just because you now have some skin in the game. Leave no one behind, when it comes to their health and well-being.

      Reply
      • I reckon that my about to be copyrighted pain relief medicine called MEDCAN is about to hit the market. The recipe is a protected secret, but I can assure those reliant on the use of Cannabis will not notice any difference if they use my secret formula. I hope I will get Medsafe approval soon, and I am looking for crowd-funding as well as suppliers of my main ingrediments. Don’t call me, if you are interested, I’ll be in touch!

        Reply

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