Mother admits giving daughter medicinal cannabis

One News previews an item they will show on Sunday tonight (7 pm) – ‘I have no regrets’ Mum says medicinal cannabis was the only thing to help her daughter

A Hawke’s Bay mother has come clean about giving her daughter cannabis for a severe medical condition.

Toni Matich says the number of her daughter’s seizures dropped dramatically and her quality of life improved when taking medical cannabis.The teenager suffers from Dravet Syndrome, which causes her to suffer hundreds, sometimes thousands, of seizures a day.

Mum Toni Matich says the number of seizures dropped dramatically, and her daughter’s quality of life improved when taking medical cannabis.

Ms Matich, who has four other children, is speaking for the first time about her decision to break the law and give her daughter the drug.

“I have no regrets about what I did for my child. She had the best quality of life from her illness for that two years’’.

Ms Matich says her cannabis mixture was created with the help of professionals, including botanists and pharmacologists.

“I also consulted with medical cannabis specialists to understand (any interactions) with the medication she was on.”

Ms Matich says she had the cannabis mixture, rich in a compound called cannabidiol,  tested to make sure it was free of any toxins before she gave it to her daughter.

Other medications before that had caused horrific side effects, she says.

“One of them schizophrenic type behaviour, so violent, extremely violent.’’

Ms Matich speaks about her efforts to obtain medical cannabis, and the impact it had on her daughter, tonight on Sunday.

It’s going to be interesting to see this tonight. Matich is a leading campaigner for the safe use of medicinal cannabis

Now Ms Matich has set up a lobby group, United in Compassion New Zealand, to establish legitimate trials for medical cannabis.

Health officials are working closely with Ms Matich on her proposals.

The group is raising money through the ‘’Givealittle’’ website to fund its work. Details can be found at here.

New Zealand Drug Foundation has helped give that a good kick start with a $2,000 donation – Givealittle page.

Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

From PRNewswire:

United Patients Group Participates in Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

The New Zealand Drug Foundation in conjunction with United in Compassion New Zealand call upon United Patients Group to contribute to a first-of-its-kind collaboration between US and international experts to further explore cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand for a range of conditions

SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — United Patients Group, the leading medical cannabis information and education site, disclosed their participation in a history-making policy briefing held last week in Wellington, New Zealand with key members of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, United In Compassion New Zealand, world-renowned researchers and leading medical cannabis physicians.  United Patients Group will act in an ongoing advisory and consultative capacity to the New Zealand working group in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to further explore and initiate potential phase 1 medical trials to examine cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand.

The esteemed invitation-only panel are made up of experts from across the medical cannabis care pathway and included New Zealand and Australian participants, along with several key experts from the United States, including United Patients Group.

John Malanca, founder of United Patients Group commented, “We are honored to be a part of such a ground-breaking and historic effort and are incredibly impressed that the New Zealand government has listened to its constituents and are making a concerted effort to explore thoughtfully and swiftly the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Background
In May 2015, after intense petitioning by United in Compassion NZ, recent media coverage of high profile medical cases and resulting public pressure, New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, agreed to start a dialogue in order to become better informed about the process of bringing medical cannabis into New Zealand for potential research and development purposes.

Dunne set up a team to explore the current climate regarding medical cannabis in New Zealand and formed a Ministry of Health Working Group, led by Dr. Stewart Jessamine, current Director of Public Health for the Ministry of Health in Wellington.  Jessamine also heads up Medicines Control which functions as a regulatory team within the Ministry of Health that oversees the local distribution chain of medicines and controlled drugs within New Zealand.  Jessamine is also an executive board member for the World Health Organization.

With a marked shift in public opinion toward legalization of cannabis for medical purposes worldwide, New Zealand (like the US) is re-examining its long-standing policies toward the (currently illegal) drug.

Compassion Melds with Science
Malanca further commented, “Fundamentally, it’s difficult to ignore the daily barrage of stories coming from all over the world where medical cannabis is cited as having an effective impact on the relief and treatment for patients living with chronic and life-threatening conditions such as Dravet Syndrome to brain cancer.”

It was Malanca’s own personal experience with the devastating diagnosis of his father-in-law’s lung cancer (which had metastasized to the brain), that led he and co-founder, Corinne Malanca to medical cannabis as a last lifeline for their family member, Stan Rutner.  Five years later, Stan Rutner remains cancer free (both brain and lung scans are clear).  The duo formed United Patients Group in 2010 in order to provide reliable, comprehensive information on medical cannabis to individuals around the world.  The online site has expanded to include information for caregivers, physicians and treatment facilities throughout the US as well as online CME (continuing medical education) courses in medical cannabis .

New Zealand Seeks US Expertise
Toni-Marie Matich is a mother of a teenage daughter suffering from Dravet Syndrome.  Matich also has an early education in science and horticulture. They live in New Zealand, where like many other countries, cannabis is illegal.  She had heard the story of young Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child who was suffering from 300 grand mal seizures per week that was being successfully treated with medical cannabis.

After exhausting all options available in New Zealand, and her daughter still suffering hundreds of seizures a day, Matich  began working behind the scenes for several years to try and raise the issue (and awareness) of medical cannabis, gaining the support of the NZ Children’s Commissioner, and the CEO of the NZ Drug Foundation along the way.  She became the New Zealand representative to United in Compassion Australia in 2014.

“Due to the laws criminalizing cannabis in New Zealand, it isn’t a treatment that our doctors or other health professionals are familiar with, therefore the ability for a doctor to have an open mind and discussion with their patient is non-existent and we would like that to change. I recognized that United Patients Group was leading the way in information across the entire spectrum of the medical cannabis movement in the US, as well as providing the educational resources for clinical and medical professionals, so I sought them out.”

Matich secured a meeting with (Associate Health Minister) Dunne, known for his vehement opposition to legalizing cannabis.  “Dunne listened and showed compassion.  To my surprise he immediately tasked a working group within the ministry to meet with us and engage in developing our initiatives.   A key component was to educate individuals on medical cannabis, so we immediately brought in United Patients Group.”

The policy briefing was hosted by the NZ Drug Foundation which functions as a charitable trust dedicated to advocating for evidence-based drug policies.  Ross Bell, Executive Director for the NZ Drug Foundation said, “Across the globe there’s a tremendous amount of new research coming up surrounding medical cannabis, and some of the research appears to be very promising.”  Bell stresses that at the core of the matter are the people of New Zealand, who are living with medical conditions that many of them feel may benefit from medical cannabis. “We’re thrilled to be working with experts from around the world, like United Patients Group, to address how to specifically deliver a medicine such as cannabis and to what type of medical condition while working through some of the political realities we face, just like any other nation at this time.”

In addition to United Patients Group, participants from the historic policy briefing included:

  • Toni-Marie Matich – Co-Founder and CEO, United in Compassion NZ Charitable Trust
  • Ross Bell – Executive Director of the NZ Drug Foundation
  • Dr. Russell Wills – The Children’s Commissioner (New Zealand)
  • Dr. Alan Shackelford  Harvard-trained physician and medical cannabis researcher who came to worldwide prominence as the doctor who successfully treated Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child suffering from 300 grand mal seizures a week
  • Dr. Bonni Goldstein – Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a medical practice in California devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions
  • Lucy Haslam – Co-Founder and Director, United In Compassion Australia
  • Troy Langman –  Co-Founder and Director,  United In Compassion Australia and New Zealand
  • Knut Ratzeberg – Laboratory Director, Medical Cannabis Services (AU)
  • Dr. Helga Seyler – Liaison between The University of Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
  • Nevil Schoenmaker – Founded ‘The Seed Bank’ in Holland in 1984, and was one of the first legal producers of cannabis seeds

About United Patients Group
United Patients Group (UPG) is the unparalleled online resource and trusted leader for medical cannabis information and education for physicians, patients and health-related organizations.

Learn more about United Patients Group at www.unitedpatientsgroup.com

About United In Compassion NZ
United In Compassion is a non-profit charitable trust whose purpose is to educate the public on Medicinal Cannabis, supporting and facilitating NZ based research into the therapeutic effects of cannabinoid based medicines, as well as providing support to New Zealanders who would like to access legal medicinal cannabis, as well as to lobby government for legislation changes regarding the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes  http://unitedincompassion.org.nz/

About NZ Drug Foundation
A charitable trust dedicated to evidence-based alcohol and other drug policy.  http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/

Poll supports medical cannabis, Dunne considering

A ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll shows public support for medical cannabis and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says “he’s open to more medicinal products being available if they undergo a comprehensive testing regime”

Should medicinal marijuana become more available in New Zealand?

The poll:

  • 47% think marijuana should be legal for medical cases
  • Nearly a quarter say it should remain illegal

So that’s twice as many think it should be legal.

  • 21% say possession of a small amount should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction
  • 9% believe marijuana should be legalised for general use

It’s not clear if they are part of one poll but the numbers suggest they are. It’s odd to pool two separate issues like that.

If so that would mean 68% think marijuana should be legal for medical cases or possession of a small amount should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction.

One News reports:

Mr Dunne says if products are “shown as a result of the normal testing programme to be fit for purpose” then he’ll permit them to be made available here.

“It depends entirely on whether it is credible, I don’t think the notion of just puffing a few joints in your backyard is credible.”

Dunne had a meeting with Toni Marie Matich, a representative of United in Compassion NZ:

Matich has a teenage daughter with a rare form of epilepsy that sees her suffer multiple seizures and says she would benefit from medicinal marijuana.

“I feel a lot of the general public, if they had a child as sick as mine, they would do anything they could to try and make their child better,” she told One News.

She’s set up an organisation called United in Compassion, which is linked to the Australian version, and met with Mr Dunne this week to discuss the way forward.

“It isn’t an overnight thing that’s going to happen, it’s going to take a long time, but I feel as a small country we have the ability to catch up with the rest of the world.”

She says more products are needed to help people with a range of illnesses

United In Compassion is a non profit lobby for the re-introduction of medicinal cannabis and a community for patients and carers. There is a similar group in Australia: http://www.unitedincompassion.com.au/

Three states in Australia are currently working together investigating the use of medical cannabis – see Queensland and Victoria join New South Wales on medical cannabis trials.

UPDATE: The poll results are unclear in the news report, I’ve asked Colmar Brunton and they have said they will put the results up on their website on Monday.