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Cannabis spray gets thumbs up

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Carterton mother Tracy Yeats hopes the government will take notice of a survey which shows overwhelming support for the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.

Mrs Yeats’ daughter Grace, 14, has shown significant improvements in her health since she began taking Sativex, a cannabis based spray, eight months ago.

She has a rare condition, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or Adem, which robbed her of speech and movement four years ago.

The then ten-year-old Saint Mary’s schoolgirl was left cognitively unimpaired but unable to walk, talk, eat or sit.

The survey, commissioned by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, revealed 82 percent of the 1029 participants supported cannabis for terminal pain relief, and 79 per cent for pain relief.

Mrs Yeats was not surprised at the high numbers in support.

“The people around us have seen the difference it’s made for Grace.

“Even if they were kind of anti or sitting on the fence before, now they can see what it can do to ease suffering.”

She said since beginning cannabis treatment in November, Grace was seeing all kinds of benefits.

“It’s calmed her dystonia down a lot, she has more purposeful movement in her hands which has enabled her to communicate on her iPad and do her school work a lot better.

“She can focus and concentrate better with her school work.

“Plus she can now talk, as of late February, and I do put that down to the cannabis.”

Mrs Yeats was disappointed to hear Prime Minister John Key on the radio saying he was not a fan of decriminalising the drug.

“It’s just like beating your head against a brick wall – they just seem so set in their attitude – it really just brings you to tears.”

So far Grace’s treatment has cost $8000, at $1100 a month.

The money to pay for the drug was raised through Givealittle, with Mrs Yeats saying “that money won’t last forever”.

She “desperately hopes” that when the fundraised money runs out there is a cheaper alternative to Sativex available to her daughter.

“It hurts handing that money over to the pharmacy when there are other things that we need as well. I mean it’s a plant that I can grow in the garden.”

Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand co-ordinator Shane LeBrun said the decriminalisation of the drug would benefit thousands of Kiwis.

“If they decriminalised it then a lot of people in chronic pain, like my wife [who suffered a spinal injury], would be able to have a bit at home without the fear of prosecution.”

In a country of 4.5milion people, less than 40 were on Sativex, New Zealand’s only legal cannabis-based drug.

He said this was because many people were not even aware of its existence, with some doctors reluctant to prescribe it.

Health conditions with symptoms that could be relieved by cannabis use included Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and arthritis, Mr LeBrun said.

The survey showed 64 per cent supported decriminalising or legalising personal possession of the drug.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said he would not advocate “smoking any drug that’s going to do long-term damage”.

But making cannabis available for medicinal use was “a no-brainer”.

“If you’ve got a doctor who prescribes some sort of cannabis based product, or morphine based product, or a drug that would be dangerous in the hands of the general public but the doctor wants to prescribe it then I’m absolutely in favour of the doctor being able to prescribe it.”

The sample for the poll was drawn from a random selection of 15,000 eligible NZ voters contactable on a landline, of which 1029 agreed to participate.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

BOB COOPER-GRUNDY, Carterton. “I support decriminalising it under certain conditions, assuming it would be controlled more rigorously than alcohol and be only available from licenced premises. I’d probably support both medical and recreational use. I don’t necessarily think cannabis leads to other drugs, it’s just they’re usually available from the same place. Anything you can do to take the sale of drugs away from criminals is probably a good idea.”
BOB COOPER-GRUNDY, Carterton.
“I support decriminalising it under certain conditions, assuming it would be controlled more rigorously than alcohol and be only available from licenced premises. I’d probably support both medical and recreational use. I don’t necessarily think cannabis leads to other drugs, it’s just they’re usually available from the same place. Anything you can do to take the sale of drugs away from criminals is probably a good idea.”
ALISON MANNELL, Masterton. “I think it would be a very good idea to either decimalise of legalise cannabis, as long as rules and regulations are enforced, as there is with alcohol. In all the decades they have been trying to stamp out drugs they have never been able to do it, and forbidden things are always more attractive. If you get it decriminalised there’ll be more control over supplies and you can make wiser decisions on how to treat drug dependence.”
ALISON MANNELL, Masterton.
“I think it would be a very good idea to either decimalise of legalise cannabis, as long as rules and regulations are enforced, as there is with alcohol. In all the decades they have been trying to stamp out drugs they have never been able to do it, and forbidden things are always more attractive. If you get it decriminalised there’ll be more control over supplies and you can make wiser decisions on how to treat drug dependence.”
NEIL KING, Featherston. “I reckon they should tax it and decriminalise it. I think that would make criminals go off it. Make it a high tax so it’s out of their reach.”
NEIL KING, Featherston.
“I reckon they should tax it and decriminalise it. I think that would make criminals go off it. Make it a high tax so it’s out of their reach.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Only allowing expensive sativex and not cheaper and often more effective alternatives like bedrocan is inhumane. Medical cannabis has only been banned for a small blip in our history. Prohibition of any medicine is abhorrent but then again so is the blanket prohibition of cannabis. Even for recreational use used sensibly it is an incredibly safe drug. The harms come from prohibition itself. Prohibition of cannabis is a terrible idea built on lies and prejudice and kept going by stigma. No one wants to interact with shady dealers but are forced to because of prohibtion. As one of the comments pointed out the street dealers are the gateway to other drugs. Not only can money and police time be saved by not enforcing this unjust law the tax raised can certainly be better used in the governments hands rather than funding criminal gangs. High tax is not the way forward though as it will help maintain a black market. Whereas reasonable tax prevents this from existing.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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