Medicinal cannabis on its way
Posted at 5:53am Thursday 20 Dec, 2018 | By Emma Conyngham email@example.com
The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament last Monday, December 11 and will soon become law. Health Minister Dr David Clark said thousands of New Zealanders will potentially benefit from the Government's medicinal cannabis legislation.
“Ultimately, this legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will help people ease their suffering by making a wider range of quality medicinal cannabis products available over time.
“[The] vote in Parliament clears the way for the creation of a medicinal cannabis scheme that will allow New Zealand companies to manufacture medicinal cannabis products for both the local and international market. Regulations, licensing rules and quality standards will be set on expert advice within a year of the law coming into effect.
“These medicinal products will be available on prescription. This will be particularly welcome as another option for people who live with chronic pain. Additionally the Bill removes cannabidiol as a controlled drug, so it becomes a prescription medicine.
Hawea resident TJ Irvin has long been an advocate for medicinal and recreational cannabis, as well as industrial use of hemp. Irvin has seen first hand how cannabis can change lives; his nine-year-old son had intractable epilepsy and none of the traditional medicines were working. So, as parents, they made the decision to break the law and give him medicinal cannabis oil and the change has been profound.
“He now lives like a normal nine-year-old boy,” said Irvin.
“In a trip back to the USA recently, I dealt with my dad who was going through chemo. He was on death's door with bone marrow cancer. He has been on pain killers for a decade which had whittled him down and had bad effect on his kidneys. So I went to Seattle and bought an ounce. The oil was a combination of THC and CBD. Dad regained his appetite, He started to sleep and had regular bowel movements. This is the main thing that happens when people access medical marijuana. At 78 he's going back to fishing and enjoying life.”
For those who have used opioid-based painkillers such as oxycodone, fentanyl, or pethidine, the side-effects such as lethargy, constipation, and confusion can be harrowing; but with cannabis painkillers, the body begins to work properly again whilst fighting pain. Opioids and cannabis both come from a plant - so it is seen by many people as long-overdue change.
Irvin said the challenge now is taking the industry out of the gangs and putting it into legitimate, taxable farms and manufacturers, but other countries have done it and it's now New Zealand's turn to step up. He also believes there is a educational gap in people's understanding of drugs; “ecstasy, methamphetamines, crack and a joint are not the same thing,” he said “I was brought up that all drugs were bad no matter what. But alcohol was fine. That's just not true.”
Irvin currently has a license to grow industrial hemp but would love to see farmland around Hawea flat turned into profitable marijuana production rather than endless subdivision. He believes the jobs and industry it would create would be far better for the district.
A referendum is planned for 2020 to make marijuana available for recreational consumption.
For those who want to find out more about medicinal cannabis, the Wanaka Cannabis Club meets at the Hawea Pub on the first Tuesday of the month at 6.30pm.