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Medical cannabis users go public to denounce review


Medical cannabis users go public to denounce government review

In an unprecedented public statement, 12 medical cannabis users and caregivers are going public in order to denounce the Ministry of Health's recent review of the criteria for medical cannabis use in New Zealand.

The coalition include cancer patient Helen Kelly and mother Rose Renton, as well as several patients and caregivers coming forward for the first time. Many have been forced to operate outside the law in order to find relief from serious, debilitating symptoms.

They denounce the Ministry's recent actions as deceptive, unscientific, and in breach of patients' human rights, and call for an independent review.


Statement of Medical Cannabis Patients & Caregivers

2 June 2016

We are medicinal cannabis users and caregivers who have witnessed the benefits of cannabis, for ourselves and our loved ones.

We speak up on behalf of the large number of medical cannabis users across New Zealand, many of whom are afraid to speak publicly.

We denounce the recent Ministry of Health review of the guidelines for cannabis-based products, and call for an urgent independent enquiry.

The Ministry review is poorly designed, and lacks both scientific basis and respect for patients’ health and human rights. The outcome was accordingly pre-determined.

Rather than empowering patients with safe and affordable choices, the guidelines make access to cannabis unnecessarily difficult and restrict choices to expensive pharmaceutical preparations accessible only for the wealthy few. They fail to achieve the stated objective of the UN to facilitate affordable access to medical cannabis.

Obvious problems with the Ministry’s review include:

• Biased methodology. The small number of doctors surveyed were apparently hand-selected and have little experience with medical cannabis. The Ministry failed to consult the many patients who the system has failed, those who are using cannabis unlawfully as an effective pain relief, those who have used it legally overseas, those who suffer in pain through fear of breaking the law, or doctors who understand the benefits cannabis offers. No world experts on medical cannabis appear to have been consulted, despite the vast international body of research and expertise.

• Misleading and deceptive scientific claims. The Ministry either has not consulted the relevant medical literature, or is deliberately ignoring the many scientifically demonstrated benefits of cannabis use. The report contains an astonishing array of complete falsehoods, such as “There is no evidence of efficacy in chronic non-malignant pain” and “No one has become seizure free on cannabis-based products.”

Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne claims to want evidence-based policy, but in fact is presiding over the exact opposite. The current guidelines for medical cannabis access in New Zealand fall well short of international best practice.

The Ministry of Health have proven they are ill-equipped to make such important determinations on behalf of New Zealanders.

• Failure to promote patient rights. Access to affordable and safe medicine is a fundamental human right that should be a joint decision between patient and doctor.

Patients trust their doctors with their lives. Doctors should be free to prescribe medicines that are well-accepted overseas to best suit the circumstances.

We call for:

1) Immediate access to medical cannabis on the same basis as other scheduled medicines such as opiates.

2) An independent enquiry to establish why the Associate Minister’s review yielded such a narrow, poorly informed and paternalistic outcome.

3) A properly resourced commitment to undertake wide ranging open-minded consultation with patients, their caregivers and doctors with expertise on this issue.

4) Education of patients and their doctors to promote informed choice in decisions which affect patients’ health and wellbeing.

5) New Zealand to fulfil its human rights obligations to its citizens and to adopt best international practice.

We are all willing to share our experiences with the Ministry of Health.

The question is whether they are willing to listen.

Signed by:

Rebecca Reider, chronic pain patient
Helen Kelly, cancer patient
Rose Renton, caregiver of epilepsy patient (deceased)
Huhana Hickey, multiple sclerosis patient
Tracy Yeats, Registered Nurse and caregiver of a daughter with dystonia, epilepsy and chronic pain
Jacinta Newport, Registered Nurse and caregiver of a daughter with severe central pain syndrome, post juvenile arthritis
Victoria Davis, caregiver of chronic pain patient (deceased)
Gwydyon app Vine, PTSD and chronic pain patient
Robert Davey, chronic pain patient
Brandon Stronge, chronic pain patient
Danny Jones, chronic pain patient, fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis
Chris Hansen, cannabis grower, cannabis oil producer and PTSD patient


#### ENDS #####

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