NZ unlikely to follow Aussie medical cannabis change

NZ unlikely to follow Aussie medical cannabis change

The use of medicinal cannabis in Australia is a step closer, with new laws being drawn up to allow the drug to be grown legally.

It's being called a game changer for those with severe illness and it's also raised the question – if Australia are doing it, should we?

Former union boss Helen Kelly is terminally ill with lung cancer. She has tumours in her hips, spine and brain and takes cannabis oil before she goes to bed to ease the pain.

"They hurt," she says. "They hurt at night, and when I lie down I feel the aching and the cannabis oil works. It's amazing."

She is pleading with the Government to do more to help people like her.

"I'm being forced to take opiate drugs, morphine and much stronger drugs, which I don't like and which are bad for me."

The same pleas have echoed around Australia for decades.

"I'll break the law again and again to save my son," says mother Michelle Whitelaw.

Ms Whitelaw also had to take on the role of pharmacist – and criminal – to keep her son, Jai, alive.

Under the new laws, that will be easier, with Australia now allowing marijuana to be legally grown for medicinal use.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the market isn't big enough here to do the same.

"What it's more likely to mean I think is that if Australia comes to the point, some point in the future, which could be two or three years away, of approving products for us, then we would be more likely to follow suit."

Clinical trials are already underway in New South Wales and have been planned in Queensland and Victoria. This change in legislation will allow states to take the next step and grow their own cannabis and turn it into a pharmaceutical product.

"It's very difficult to import, and it's very expensive to get hold of," says Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley. "So by having a controlled cultivation here in Australia we ensure the supply."

It will make it cheaper and easier for those facing debilitating conditions to access – in Australia, at least.

"We've got Peter Dunne for some reason digging his toes in and scared of what is a growing trend, which he can't avoid for much longer," says Ms Kelly.

Ms Kelly doesn't have much longer either, and she just wants it to be as painless as possible.

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