Medical Marijuana, Munchies vs HIV….. (Munchies wins)

My first patient story from an angle other than pain!!  this patient has been active in the past within the Medical Cannabis community, and has successfully beaten the odds to persevere with HIV when most of his peer group in a similar position have bitten the dust.  Nausea and appetite stimulation is the other big condition with significant evidence that Cannabis is renowned for treating. Although this man has HIV, even more evidence can be had for fighting the same symptoms as side effects of Chemotherapy treatment for those fighting Cancer.


It was quite a shock to be diagnosed HIV+ some years ago.  Thoughts of an early death and suffering sprang to mind.  Upon educating myself about the virus I discovered the anti viral medications often cause extreme nausea and other serious side effects. I learned that many people were resorting to cannabis to control nausea and stimulate appetite.

I began medications immediately upon diagnosis. I was afraid, having been told of the likely side effects.

The morning I swallowed my first handful of drugs I will never forget.  Within half an hour I was extremely nauseas. I actually began vomiting until I was simply dry retching.  I thought about having to take more medications later that evening and became very concerned.  I tried to eat some lunch but never actually put any food in my mouth due to the extreme nausea and vomiting. I began to despair at what my life was going to be like. I cried.

Mid afternoon arrived and I forced myself to put a chicken in the oven for dinner, knowing I needed food with my drugs. As soon as I could smell it cooking I was vomiting wildly. I was so upset, in tears and despairing. I could not stand the smell of the cooking chicken, one of my favourite foods, so took it from the oven and threw it away!

Amongst tears and worry about how my life was to be I began to wonder if I should try cannabis for it’s anti emetic properties. I called a family member who brought me some cannabis. I was a wreck. Vomiting, crying and really in a panic. I took two puffs on a cannabis cigarette and my extremely severe and debilitating nausea was completely removed.  Completely! I was shocked but of course happy that my full day of vomiting had come to an end. The “high” had completely and utterly overruled the nausea! I cried in front of my children, only this time it was tears of relief and happiness. I ate food wolfing it down. Thank you to the “munchies” syndrome associated with cannabis.

From that day on I thought I would use cannabis. I was able to produce my own much of the time. It is not hard with a bit of study and a good teacher.  It was however illegal. I concluded that a law which may prevent me having a good quality of life and even life itself by allowing me to keep my medications down without vomiting them out was wrong. I have a right to do what it takes to stay alive I told myself. I did what I needed to stay alive and as well as possible.

I started a support group, contacted media and made sure my doctors knew what I was doing. My specialist at the time did not discourage cannabis use and eventually wrote to the Minister of Health suggesting I should be permitted cannabis use.  I also wrote to Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne outlining how my dear friend could not stomach his life saving medications and so decided not to take them. I described how my dear friend had died a nasty death. The Government, via Peter Dunne replied that my comments and concerns were “garbage not worthy of a response!  That was well over a decade ago now.

We currently “supposedly” have one cannabis medication available in New Zealand, Sativex. I say supposedly because it is so tightly controlled not even my HIV specialist is authorised to script it! Sativex is not funded by Pharmac and out of my reach even if scripted.

I suffered a severe heart event a few years ago and cannot inhale cannabis. I am too scared now to produce my own because the stress of arrest and imprisonment may cause a heart event. I had made my own tincture which worked even better than inhaling. I cannot afford that amount of cannabis and the fear of court action prevents me doing that as well. Any processing of cannabis increases the penalties in the extreme.

I suffer terribly every day. I wonder why my government devalues my life and the lives of thousands of kiwi’s by refusing to permit doctor scripted cannabis products or even make Sativex easier to get and afford. My own government is complicit in perpetuating our suffering and misery. Nothing has changed in over a decade apart from there being much more supporting information. I am almost ashamed to be a New Zealander.