Poll: 91% support medicinal cannabis

A Roy Morgan poll  shows A massive majority of Australians support the legalisation of medicinal marijuana.

The question, ‘In your opinion should the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes be made legal or remain illegal?’

  • Yes, legal: 91%
  • No, not legal: 7%
  • Can’t say: 2%

Interestingly the 50+ age group showed stronger support:

  • 14-24: 85%
  • 25-39: 90%
  • 50+: 94%

This may be due to older people seeing more chance of needing and benefiting from medicinal use of cannabis based products.

Older age groups are also more likely to be voters.

** This special telephone Morgan Poll was conducted over three nights, October 20-22, 2015, with an Australia-wide cross section of 644 Australians aged 14+.

Victoria to legalise locally manufacturted medical cannabis

The Victorian Government says they are “committed to making medicinal cannabis legal for use by patients in exceptional circumstances. This includes making changes to Victorian law, facilitating clinical trials, and arranging access to a safe and regulated medicinal cannabis product.”

One of the greatest risks in relation to medicinal cannabis is that there is currently no regulated and standardised product, and no formalised, regulated system for oversight by an appropriate health professional.

Black market products such as oils, tinctures and plant matter can contain unknown ingredients that can put people at risk.  It is also difficult to monitor appropriate dosages, and there are risks in managing and predicting interactions and reactions with other medicines.

Once the laws have been changed, patients will be strongly encouraged to speak with their medical practitioners about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis, and whether it may be appropriate to treat their medical conditions.

How they will change the law.

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation before the end of 2015 to enable access to locally manufactured medicinal cannabis products for a limited and select group of patients.

The Victorian Law Reform Report on medicinal cannabis, which has been tabled in Parliament, includes extensive recommendations on how Victoria can enable access for people in exceptional circumstances and do so safely and securely, under appropriate medical supervision.

Key issues addressed in the Victorian Law Reform Report include:

  • The cultivation, manufacture and supply of sound quality medicinal cannabis products within Victoria
  • Patient eligibility, and conditions and corresponding symptoms
  • The importance of Commonwealth/State cooperation
  • Appropriate clinical oversight involving specialists, general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists
  • Research and evaluation.

The Victorian Government fully accepts 40 of the Commission’s recommendations, and accepts two recommendations in principle.

The Government will be working as quickly as possible to ensure Victorians in exceptional circumstances can access a safe, secure and reliable source of medicinal cannabis and will introduce legislation into Parliament in December this year.

http://www.health.vic.gov.au/dpcs/medicinal-cannabis

There’s a way to go with this and the extent to which this will apply is yet to be clarified but this is a positive move in Victoria, and if this works out as beneficial it will help New Zealand go down a similar legal path.

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.

AIDS

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.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, another case for Medicinal Cannabis

This week’s story is from someone I know personally, who has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, widely regarded as the worst pain disorder in existence,  the only thing worse is when the disease progresses, and the R for regional no longer applies,  in advanced stages even the senses are rewired to pain, so loud noises bright lights etc also trigger this cascade effect.  It can also trigger bowel and other organ issues etc in advanced stages which can come across as chemical sensitivities.

Below is a chart of comparison pain levels, the pain vs child birth can be confirmed by those who develop the condition later in life, just as my wife can confirm that Flare ups of her back pain easily surpass the pain of her child birth. CRPS if picked up early can be reversed with intensive management, however once it has progressed to a certain point, there is no cure, and it normally it will gradually deteriorate.  This condition is a poster child for both compassionate use of Medicinal Cannabis, but also Euthanasia, as there are many with advanced CRPS who seriously consider suicide, if not act upon it.

painscale

What is Medical Marijuana to me. Its being able to have a better quality of life – to function – to laugh – to enjoy the small things in life & medical marijuana helps me achieve that. I have lived (survived) 15yrs with CRPS Complex Regional Pain Syndrome the highest rated pain condition above unmedicated labour even amputation of a digit. An accident / injury / surgery caused a switch in my nervous system causing inflammation.

What does that mean. Everything that my nervous system controls touch, sound, vibration, sight, hormones, stress, any normal stimuli that is harmless has now become so sensitive its harmful. It also controls, hair growth, skin colouration, blood flow, heart rate, swelling. The pain of course also affects sleep which then affects mood control & coping skills.

I have been on every mediation thrown at me, making me feel like a lab rat as I suffer side effect after side effect. I also tried every alternative help that I could find, but the only thing Iv found to help is medical marijuana. Before I became chronically ill I did not approve of marijuana & looked down on those that used, until I was in so much pain begging for death, as I felt I tried everything else to help end the pain. The relief was instant, their was light at the end of the tunnel. One should not be made to feel a criminal for seeking a better quality of life.

Yes it is still a drug & will not be for all but its made a world of difference for me, it helps by blocking, distracting the pain receptors in the spinal cord helping reduce, distract from the pain, but thats not all, it can also be used as a sleep aid, an anti depressant, help stop reduce muscle spasm & tension, & most of all that horrid nausea, your’ll be able to eat again, though that is also a side effect so watch what you eat & how much.

For me this medical plant has helped me so much I no longer need any prescription drugs which crps has made me chemically sensitive too causing horrid side effects on top of the many evil things crps does. More education is needed & give help to those suffering, included in the education is that New Zealand can still be smoke free, New Yorks Medical Marijuana laws have shown us the way.  The education should include different applications of the medicine to get the best help from symptoms, vape, butter, oil,  and creams, all still help without the need to smoke, this is why we need education.

We are not pot heads, we are people where there is no cure. and the medical system is failing us, and will continue to fail us for the forseeable future.

We demand the right for a better quality of life, and a mere class C Drug helps in so many ways.

Medicinal Cannabis and the return to work.

Of a particular frustration to the chronic pain community, is those that are able to return to part time work, but have so many flare ups and days off sick that they are not able to work to a schedule, and unreliable workers in that sense.  This is a personal issue I have with the ACC system, as most employers balk at the idea of an employee who can’t reliably manage a few short shifts per week, as there is no guarantee when the flare ups of the pain will occur. Below is a story by another sufferer of a chronic pain syndrome, that evolved from an excruciating event with a kidney stone. In this patients case  moderated Cannabis use has saved the Govt thousands in hospital admissions, another few hundred in prescriptions, and with the patient actively trying to return to the workforce thanks to the relief obtained with Cannabis, one would anticipate a 5 figures  per year or so saving  in sickness benefits would be paid out in future.

The night before my 20th birthday I was watching TV and I started getting what I thought were period pains. They kept on getting worse and worse until I rang Healthline and told them what was happening. They told me to go into A&E and there I was told I had a kidney stone.

That passed on its own no problems, then a few months later I had the pain again, went in and they said the same thing it’s a stone, don’t stress you’ll be sweet as, here have some more morphine.

The pain started coming more and more often until I was going into A&E a couple of times a month with pain that was out of control in my lower left abdomen.

Eventually I was diagnosed with a Chronic Pain Syndrome, a neurological condition where my wiring in my nerves send out pain signals for no reason. My GP referred me to Burwood Pain Clinic and there I saw Dr Alchin and the pain team. There I was put on gabapentin in combination with an anti-depressant called Venlafaxine. Apparently these 2 drugs work well together when it comes to relieving chronic pain. I also was referred to a psychiatrist and physiotherapist.

Nothing worked and the side effects of the venlafaxine were making me SO unwell. I was also prescribed Morphine, Tramadol, Codiene, pretty much every painkiller they have which all help the pain slightly for a little bit of time but cause horrible side effects like nausea, vomiting, BAD temper, bad dreams, bad memory, dizziness, stopping in the middle of a conversation and forgetting what we were talking about, leaving stuff behind ALL the time and a whole lot of other crap.

Then after awhile they said there wasn’t any more they could do and that I was just going to have to do my best to live with it.

Before all this started I was working as a nanny in Auckland and I had to quit as I was so unreliable, I had no idea when the pain would hit and when it did all I could do is ring 111 and ask for an ambulance. I tried working part time in a supermarket deli, was fired from that too because I was 2 unreliable and took 2 much time off sick.

For 3 years since my 20th I had been going to A&E about 2-3 times a month with very strong 10/10 uncontrollable pain. More than a few times I was told GO HOME YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A DRUG SEEKER. This is one of the worst things I think, as the pain was neurological, there was no other symptoms other than pain and raised pulse/BP, so they couldn’t find a source for the pain so obviously I was faking it for attention/to get opiates. When you are in that much pain and you get told you’re faking it, you do not usually react very well, your reaction is noted in your records and the next time you go to A&E in pain the exact same thing will happen.

I started reading up on a support group for people with chronic pain which is mostly based in the US and Canada. The people on the page had such amazing stories about how MMJ helped them with their chronic pain and I had to try it.

I researched methods of using it, as I was in this for the long haul, I didn’t want to smoke it and ruin my lungs.  I discovered many people were using vaporizers, the good ones have been tested and found to remove 90-95% of the extra crap that ends up in the lungs. Basically they work just be applying heat without flame to the material, and the active ingredients boil off and are inhaled, without burning the material. I have a portable one that allows me to discreetly get pain relief while out and about, allowing me to get more active without fear of being disabled by my pain while in the middle of town.

I started as soon as I could find some and I noticed my whole body relaxing as I was “vaping” it. My pain which was sitting at about 6/10 at the time went away almost completely.  I thought “nah surely it wouldn’t work that fast” but it really did.

After around 2 months, one day I realized OMG I haven’t been in a&e this month!! And I didn’t go back in for about 6 months. I was amazed and I’ve never looked back.

I’m turning 26 in March and I’ve been vaping regularly for 2 years, I am about to start looking for part time work!  I haven’t been into A&E for (around about) the last 6 months with the pain and the gaps between flares are getting bigger and bigger.

I personally don’t think it’s fair that someone who doesn’t even know me, has the authority to tell me “you can’t smoke that its illegal/bad for you” when it’s the only thing keeping me going!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannabis and Chronic Pain, a Canadian story.

Below is a story from a person within the chronic pain community, who has had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of a more progressive cannabis policy in Canada.  In a short space of time, he used Cannabis, a class C drug, to withdraw from Clonozepam, an addictive class C drug (similar to but generally stronger than Valium) and significantly reduce his usage of Fentanyl patches, (an even more addictive class B drug, much stronger than morphine), all the while receiving much more pain relief.  Even the specialist couldn’t argue with such results when he came back to NZ, and so he began the process of obtaining Sativex, a mouth spray of Cannabis oil, and the only Cannabis preparation available in NZ

I am a man in my mid 30s,  who use to work as a mid level manager for a medical organisation,  my Journey to MMJ began in May 2012….

A car pulled in front of my scooter without looking, rather than collide I put the bike down and shattered my tibia and broke my thumb.

They put a K wire in my thumb.  I was then flown to Auckland to put an External fixator (holes drilled into your bones to hold them in place) in my leg to wait for the swelling  to  go down, which it never did, and eventually they put 2 titanium plates and 13 pins in. But my knee is still crooked and heavily scarred. … They also said there was almost no soft tissue damage………..

I couldn’t even wipe myself or shower for at least 2 months following the accident.

At the hospital they didn’t believe my extreme pain after the first operation (which I started waking up during, suggesting either they didn’t use enough gas, or I have a high natural tolerance for opiates and certain sedatives).

This became my first flare up of what was eventually diagnosed as CRPS (complex Regional Pain Syndrome).

They told me to ignore it and watch TV and gave me a strong Antipsychotic to shut me up, – Halperidol, usually used for Schizophrenia etc.

It took 3 hours of extreme pain and yelling in the emergency department and my wife pleading before they finally got an anaesthetist to administer fentanyl.

Over the next year there were lots of physios. When my leg swelled nice and red they’d put ice on it. It just got worse and worse even though they had me biking hundreds of kms they never took note of it, this is a failure on there part to diagnose my CRPS sooner as the semi-permanent swelling and discoloration is a tell tale sign of CRPS.

13 months later after being treated like a drug seeker they finally sent me for an ultrasound. All those physios and orthopedics had me biking and walking on a snapped LCL, a missing meniscus and a torn PCL and damaged ACL.  (google meniscus for a knee diagram…)

They sent me to what ACC called a pain specialist, who I recently found out is not a pain specialist but a rehab specialist, nevertheless he wasn’t an “ACC Hitman” and he diagnosed the CRPS.

Since then I have tried the tricylcic anti depressants, Nortriptyline and Amitriptyline, I am hyper sensitive to them and even the smallest dose put me in a state similar to a half doz of beer all day every day.  I have been on all the anti depressants under the sun,  I have tried fairly experimental treatments such as Bisphosonate infusions that made my arm swell like a watermelon and made me feel like I had a horrible flu for a week.

The standard medication for dulling nerve pain, Gabapentin, was tried twice to no effect, but I did have temporary success with Fentanyl patches,  Fentanyl is a very strong opiate, somewhere in strength between morphine and the weaponised gas version used in the Moscow Theatre Siege of the early 2000s.  It was originally intended for palliative care where patients couldn’t swallow pills etc, and is a 3 day slow release patch,

The patches would take 1 or 2 points out of 10 off the pain, however tolerance built quickly, and I escalated to the largest patch, of 100mcg,  which is the equivalent of 300-400mg of morphine a day,  usually reserved for cancer pain and palliative care, etc.   With pain and opiates, the answer seemed to be “not working, you need MORE!”

I was a zombie. Stuck at home. In pain.  Incredibly short tempered, and not always  coherent, memory patchy at best, prone to feeling nauseated and vomiting during pain flares, and I slowly lost weight.

I couldn’t drive, reactions were too slow, balance wasnt great either, I was prone to bouts of dizzyness, and made dumb decisions.

So I made a life changing decision, you see, I am originally from Canada, a place where MMJ is fully legal,  I made a 2 month trip to visit family. While there, my family acquired a Vaporizer,  (Vaporizing  can remove 95% of the unwanted residues etc from smoking). While there I used vaporised cannabis from a compassion club, after getting 2 hits out of a small portion of cannabis, the leftovers would then get boiled down to cannabutter, to extract any last cannabinoids, for use on toast.  (cannabinoids are fat soluble, so there are lots of recipes to soak them in olive oil, butter etc)  While there I made huge gains, within 10mins of Vaping my pain would have  a 5/10 reduction to just 2 or 3 out of 10,  so over the 2 months, I almost felt normal, a side effect of course was a lift in my mood,  and any nausea was smashed out of the park by the Vaporiser, and I began to put on weight again.  I came off several medications, Including Clonozepam, a drug with significant cognitive side effects, and had a significant reduction in my opiate requirements, Im sure with another 2 months, I could have become opiate free, which is a holy grail for people with Chronic pain.

After 2 months it was time to come back to NZ, and my improvements impressed the ACC specialist, so much so, that he agreed to try Sativex, the Cannabis oil based mouth spray, which is used off label for neuropathic pain, and the only option in NZ.

At this stage I was trialed on methadone while waiting for Sativex which sent me backward fast. I don’t remember much except when I woke up nearly blind at one stage. I did call the  ACC specialist after hours at some stage and apparently mentioned his wife/secretary had bad phone manners and would never let me get in touch with him.  He gave me a trespass order for that.  It was probably because I was on the surly side, (again opiates can in rare cases make people aggressive, depression is usually the main one exacerbated by them)

I also received another from ACC when I was mentioning Cannabis in reference to getting Sativex,  immediately after the Ashburton shootings, so in hindsight ACC staff may have been a little on the jumpy side…..

It was obvious after 2 tresspass orders that methadone doesn’t agree with me, so I switched back to Fentanyl patches. The Specialist did sign the papers before all of this so I could get a Sativex script. But ACC wouldn’t fund it. I am having them do a review in the new year.

I am contemplating paying for it myself and it cost me about $1000 a month. I am sure that’s why they denied me.  Methadone costs less than 20 cents for a 5mg tablet i’m told, Sativex would be $30 a day… Fentanyl didn’t work as effectively as it should, I had a personality transplant on Methadone and lost the ability to form coherent memories, and I don’t miss Clonozepam, So of the Class B Drugs,  Cannabis preparation were the most relief from pain, and also controlled my Nausea and mood, removing the need for even more drugs…

With the truly positive experience I have in my homeland, I can’t understand how anyone can deny MMJ with a straight face, the night and day difference it provided to me overseas was a revelation for my specialist.

The 2 main active ingredients, CBD and THC are both listed as medicines. That’s why Sativex is legal. Why not import a cheaper alternative from the US or somewhere. Make a market not a monopoly…..  ACC is denying me the only variety available of the most effective and sustainable family of treatments/medicines based on cost,  in Canada the Compassion clubs have given me better relief than ACCs top pain specialists, which is why I believe that domestically grown must be a part of the debate going forward to keep prices in check. I cannot just “live like its legal” and grow my own, as my wife has a medical career herself that would be put in jeopardy.  Something has to change, and I still cry about it. If I could find a grower I would quit all the drugs and go all natural. But alas it’s illegal, with no political will to change it…..

Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain advocacy group

One of the strongest reasons for changing our cannabis law is the benefits of using cannabis to treat chronic pain.

Shane Le Brun posted a comment on an advocacy group he is involved with, it’s worth a separate post.

I am traditionally a little right wing politically, (8+ years in defence force and all that that entails) but I 100% support Decriminalization and Full medical use.

The reason I support its application medically is chronic pain. My wife had a fall on Ice at age 22 and ruptured 2 lumbar discs, which then pushed on her nerves going down the legs. She was put on strong opiates after 9months as it seemed surgery was iminent, to allow her to continue working and moving.

Then ACC happened, and it took nearly 2 years to get the surgery, in that time, the pain wind up on nerves became permanent, and her tolerance to opiate based pain killers went up. The surgery removed the mechanical aspect of her pain, but the nerves are permanently fried, and the pain does not abate, because of this, she has had 40+ ED visits when we cant get a handle on the pain, and they have overdosed her 3 times, once requiring Naloxone, and once while pregnant, putting our unborn child at risk of cerebral hemorrhaging when her oxygen sats dipped to a mere 70%……

When her pain is in flare mode, few things fix it, Ketamine, (administered by the Angels at St John) Intra Muscular Morphine, Cannabis, and if the pain is due to muscle spasm, Diazepam suppository.

Considering she has been Overdosed 3 times in 4 years, CNS depressants are less than ideal, so long term scratch Ketamine and Morphine off the list, (she is now on a low dose of Methadone, which is actually a very effective Opiate for Nerve Pain, and I wish someone had the balls to put her on it years ago….)

Look at the Ovedose rate in the states, MMJ has very quickly reversed the trend in ever increasing deaths from Overdose of Opiates such as Oxycodone.

We are law abiding citizens, but a long term future on Methadone is far more grim than a bit of cannabis soaked in olive oil. I have created an Advocacy group to gather like minded people in the chronic pain side of things to begin advocating for change, please feel free to join and contact me.

Facebook link: Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain Advocacy group NZ.

This is a closed group that you have to request to become a member of.

This group is designed around actual advocacy and contact with politicians and the media to raise awareness of the plight of Chronic Pain patients, who often do not have the energy and ability to advocate themselves, about the success many of them have had with using Marijuana to improve their quality of life, while countering political arguments with regards to MMJ held by politicians, such as legal alternatives being better, when in many cases the Poly prescription approach proves more harmful, such as combining anti psychotics, with Methadone Valium.

Conspiracy theorists, Cancer cure shills and Salesmen etc are not welcome, we want the cold hard truth, and aim for Cannabis to be a 3rd line treatment option for pain, after morphine, and before the more dangerous Opiates and other medications doctors freely give out when they have given up, such as Anti Pyschotics.