Cannabis News

OPINION: When Rose Renton illegally administered a medical cannabinoid to her son Alex there were few who would speak against her.

All the Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne could say was that Renton's choice was "unfortunate". She was no doubt desperate and wanted to do everything possible to help her son.

It was an emotional and exciting time as Whangarei dad Brendan Guest held his daughter for the first time in a year.

Wife Jessika Guest, daughter Jade and son Ethan have been living in Colorado since June last year, so 7-year-old Jade can access medical marijuana to treat the severe epilepsy which saw her having up to 40 seizures a day. But the decision meant Mr Guest had to remain in Whangarei, where he is working as a truck driver.

The devastated family of a Kaikohe community leader jailed for two years for cannabis supply has lodged an appeal.

Kelly van Gaalen, a 38-year-old mother of three, was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of cannabis for supply in the Kaikohe District Court on July 30 following a jury trial. She was charged with having 684g of cannabis, 24 times the personal use limit of 28g.

Kelly van Gaalen receives an art and culture award from Mayor Wayne Brown.

A leading figure in Kaikohe's arts and business communities has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of possession of cannabis for supply.

Kelly van Gaalen was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Thursday following a jury trial last month. Friends and family in the public gallery, including her three children, wept and called out as the distraught 38-year-old was led away.

Van Gaalen was a member of the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board as well as the chair of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council and promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association. She has resigned from her positions. A community board by-election will be held in October.

Veteran New Zealand cannabis law reform activist Dakta Green is accusing police of setting him up in what he calls "false and malicious charges."

Mr Green is accusing police of manufacturing evidence and pursuing a vendetta against him in an effort to derail his cannabis law reform activities. His latest cannabis charges stem from the April 22 raid on the motel unit where he was staying during his trial on charges arising from the June 2012 police raid on the Daktory. At the conclusion of this trial he was convicted and received a 28 month prison sentence.

The court was told by Police officers that they arrived at Dakta Greens motel after an "anonymous tip off" that he had sold cannabis to a teenager at the motel he was staying at. Upon arrival police noted that they could 'smell cannabis' and proceed to evoke the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 and search the premises, after finding a small amount of cannabis Dakta Green was arrested.

Turning over a new leaf

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has approved the use of a medical cannabis product for a New Zealand teenager with severe epilepsy. Other MPs are saying the country is ready for a wider debate on the marijuana. Last month, Police Association President Greg O’Connor visited Denver, Colorado, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2000 and recreational cannabis was legalised in 2013.

While New Zealand Police are busy cracking down on increasingly sophisticated cannabis growing operations here, in the American state of Colorado, officers are learning what it’s like to police in a world of legalised recreational marijuana.

Cannabis law reform has emerged in various states and countries around the globe, with many at different stages of liberalisation, but in Colorado the authorities have attempted to legislate for the entire process – from the source to the marketplace.

Moves are afoot to allow the use of medicinal cannabis following the death of Nelson teenager Alex Renton who was undergoing experimental treatment using the product.

The 19-year-old died peacefully in Wellington Hospital last night where he was receiving a treatment of Elixinol, which is derived from hemp rather than marijuana, for a condition which caused him to suffer repeated seizures.

Alex's family applied to Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne to be able to import and use the product and was granted a one-off dispensation on compassionate grounds.

Prior to his death, Alex had been brought out of his drug-induced coma and was breathing on his own.

In a Facebook post last night, his mother Rose Renton said Alex died surrounded by family, "listening to own music with a tummy full of mum's food".

Recently the family of a Nelson boy suffering severe seizures won a dispensation from the Government to treat him with cannabis oil, opening the whole discussion about the medical use of cannabis in this country.

But there are plenty of people who believe in the efficacy of cannabis as medicine and who aren't prepared to wait for the law to catch up.

Cancer sufferer Gareth Jones is one of those people. Given three months to live last October, he's survived eight months so far on self-medication with cannabis, and he wants a law change in New Zealand.

Two New Zealand specialists have entered a blazing debate on prescribing medical marijuana for pain, proving the issue continues to polarise the health sector.

Paul Hardy, Capital & Coast DHB clinical leader pain management says New Zealand doctors should prescribe medical marijuana for pain, while Auckland Regional Pain Service specialist Tipu Aamir warns against it. Their debate features in the Back to Back section of the June issue of the Journal of Primary Health Care.

Dr Hardy says it would be wrong not to prescribe cannabis for neuropathic pain.

"Given that we have an available, effective treatment for a disabling condition [neuropathic pain], where no other treatment exists, not to prescribe may be considered to be unethical, even negligent," he says.

"New Zealand doctors should not only be allowed to prescribe cannabis for pain, but ought to be doing so, both for practical and ethical reasons," Dr Hardy says.

A teenager in an induced coma in Wellington Hospital will be administered medicinal cannabis after Government approval on compassionate grounds.

Alex Renton, a 19-year-old Nelson man, has been in hospital since early April. He is in "status epilepticus", a kind of prolonged seizure.

His family have been seeking an alternative treatment after conventional medicines failed to help the man.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today approved on compassionate grounds the one-off use of Elixinol, a cannabis product from the United States to be administered by doctors at the hospital.

Mr Dunne said that despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product in patients with Mr Renton's condition status epilepticus, "my decision relies on the dire circumstances and extreme severity of Mr Renton's individual case".