Politicians not responding fast enough to public Medical Marijuana pressure

Seventy-five people have been granted permission to use medicinal cannabis in recent years but relieved recipients say many more would benefit if the cost was not so high.

Ministry of Health figures show it received 79 applications to use medicinal cannabis between the beginning of 2013 and March this year and authorised 75.

Families who have struggled through the bureaucratic red tape to gain permission to have the medication say the costs remain too high a hurdle for too many. In one case, a family has gained district health board support, another has turned to public charity.

Northland woman Alisha Butt has been using Sativex since September to control severe epilepsy and recently became the first person in the country to receive publicly-funded medical cannabis.

Her parents, Sushila and Royd Butt, believed a lack of funding for the drug was preventing others from applying to use it. Mrs Butt said it cost more than $1000 for a month’s supply.

And Helen Kelly, who can afford $12k per annum for her final years was told to take a hike.  

Rotorua girl Zoe Jeffries has uncontrolled epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, microcephaly, cerebral visual impairment and has had severe seizures since birth.

The Ministry of Health last year approved an application for Zoe to use Sativex.

Mother Karen Jeffries said the cost of the product was a huge burden but a Givealittle campaign to fund it had been “amazing”.

In addition to its cost, reluctance among health professionals to talk about medicinal cannabis could also be a barrier to it use, she said.

Her family had done their own research around the drug and there was a long road to getting access to it, she said.

There is of course an easier way.   Become a criminal.

It’s time this gets sorted.  The process of going to the minister and prove every individual case for an exception to the rule is clearly getting to the point where it needs to be handed to health professionals.

And for the hard of understanding:  this is all about pain and symptom relief, and nothing to do with getting high.

Cancer is not a gateway illness for Marijuana abuse.


– Kim Fulton, NZ Herald


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  • Seriously?

    For me there is a big difference between Kelly and Butt cases mentioned. Butt wanted to use it because it may improve her condition / its management, Kelly just wants to get stoned as a form of plain relief. The current system is aimed at the first example and needs a medical justification (as it should), but the later is unlikely to pass muster.

    Now don’t get me wrong, if Kelly (or any other dying person) wants to use it to get wasted and make their time left with us more enjoyable, then that is okay with me. I’d be happy if she wanted to take any sort of drug, rather than just those we currently prescribe like morphine. But don’t dress it up as more than it is.

    I think the legalization of marijuana for medical use is a pointless half-way house. It will be quickly exploited by those that just want to be wasted, and by liberal doctors who write prescriptions for just about anything – period pain? Stress? I think we should just go the whole hog and legalize it, treating it’s manufacture and sale as we do spirits.

    • willtin

      Every time someone partakes of marijuana doesn’t mean they get ‘wasted’, much the same as when people enjoy alcohol in moderation

      • Seriously?

        Call it mildly wasted then – my point is that to relive their pain they are relying on the THC. To say that getting “high” is not the point is to miss the point of the pain relief.

        I think we should just legalize it.

  • cows4me

    With prices like that is it any wonder they don’t want to decriminalise it. Someone doesn’t want to see their revenue stream dry up. It’s time to stop the nonsense, the war is lost, just get on with it.

  • Monty’smate

    Legalising medical marijuana is just a backdoor way of legalising a drug for recreational use. NZ does not need this. Our kids don’t need this.

    • Misfit

      completely disagree with that statement,

    • willtin

      Are you sipping on your wine while you write? Our kids don’t need alcohol either, but as adults they will have that choice available.

    • Doug

      Think of the poor gangs, what will they do when their easiest stream of revenue dries up? All those poor innocent gang members will be short of money

    • jaundiced

      As the last line in the article says, cancer is not a gateway illness for marijuana abuse

  • Misfit

    I suffer chronic pain from severe spinal injuries, not a candidate for surgery or a spine fusion due to multiple injury sites complicating surgery i have been through every treatment program going, pain clinic was a waste of time and I have pills up the wazoo, morphine, tramadol , heavy opiates, all render me useless for days, Drs will prescribe what ever I want yet get weird when I admit why Im not refilling my scripts due to self medicating. Ive been a criminal for four years thanks to good friends and only use the pills very rarely in conjunction with cannabis. I am managing to maintain my movement, my independence and actually sleep . I dont need a dr or politician to tell me what works, I know it does. I dont smoke at all , vape or edibles work a treat with no carcinogens involved. Its a no brainer but then the people in charge seem to lack that vital organ and still a little boy waits.

    • willtin

      I feel for you and hope your remedy helps you maintain as happy a life for you as possible. I have committed a criminal act nearly every day for 44 years so I must be one of New Zealand’s worst criminals.

      • Misfit

        My parents who were very against it a few years ago have done a complete 360 since seeing the change in me, they dont drink, gamble or smoke, as straight as they come, its all about perception and knowing the complete facts and weighing it up with the alternatives, you not a criminal mate its just civil disobedience, Ive been to party’s with police happy to be around friends smoking when they are of duty. I wouldnt sleep longer than 4 hours a night without it, before I had to double dose on Valium and trama adol just to pass out, good indica does the trick in 40 mins and I wake up fresh and ready for breakfast :)

  • Slijmbal

    several matters here.

    1 Is the drug (dope) proven to aid the condition.

    2 when the condition has severe and poorly treated consequences

    3 what happens when someone is terminal

    We seem to mixing these up.

    If take using dope to treat epilepsy, for instance, the evidence doesn’t (yet) stack up to allow its use as a valid treatment against epilepsy. There is a minimal level of testing set as a norm for a drug to be deemed to efficacious and safe to use for a reason. There are a number of studies current and based on these the situation may enable dope to pass muster for treatment for epilepsy – ironically, alcohol intake that is not pretty moderate is invariably problematic for those with epilepsy. It is also worth noting that there are a large number of epilepsy medications as it is a result of a condition (effectively) with several possible causes and choosing the correct medication is important. Using the wrong medication has even been fatal. It is exceedingly unlikely that dope will be a general medication that can be used in the treatment of epilepsy.

    If we continue on the epilepsy theme we have the example in the article. There is a small minority, but the numbers do add up, of those whose epilepsy is intractable and severe and it does not respond to medications or the consequences of the medication are severe in themselves. It seems absolutely bonkers to be applying the parameters in the previous paragraph as there is little downside and some chance of improvement. Drop the rules here.

    If someone is terminal – let them have whatever appears to work. Pain and discomfort are subjective.

  • I’ve got no sympathy for this campaign.
    The medical cannabis argument is simply a first stage to decriminalization of marijuana.

    And that quite frankly is to the benefit of no one except the hop heads. And yes I’ve had my taste and more before anyone gets on their high horse.

    I’ve mentioned in the past my brother (a former drug and alcohol councilor) had a huge hard on about dope and used to quote studies and the like about the harm it did.

    Now I’m not my brother and I don’t have access to that info so when you all come crawling out of the woodwork demanding it I’m not going to be able to supply but the one thing I do know is it exists and the harm done by THC is NOT fictional.

    And as its the THC component the legalise by stealth actually want I’m not really interested. I don’t believe there is any other agenda and call BS on the fact that for some people other available pain relief doesn’t work.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Get off the grass mate. There is no proof that it has therapeutic benefits but likewise the odd toke has no long term effects.

  • Anthony

    When I saw Helen Kelly on TV a few days back she had both her eyebrows and a full head of stubble, like it’d be shaved a couple of days prior. Suspicious.