Cannabis oil: Time to look at medicinal benefits?

Cannabis oil: Time to look at medicinal benefits?

Medical marijuana used to be seen as a fringe option, a mad alternative to conventional drugs, but not anymore.

These days in many countries it has already been approved to treat a number of conditions.

But that is not happening in New Zealand. It has been heart-breaking for the sick people and their families who believe it can help them.

One of those people is the President of the Council of Trade Unions and cancer patient, Helen Kelly.

Ms Kelly wants an exemption from the Government to use medicinal cannabis oil.

Is it time to relax cannabis oil for those who are terminally ill? What did MPs have to say based on a conscience vote?

But what is the difference between legalising marijuana and allowing cannabis to be used in medicine?

Cannabinoids from marijuana can be used as medicine to treat nausea, pain, anxiety and seizures.

The chemical that can do all this is called CBD or cannabidiol. It is not like THC, which is the compound that gets people high when they smoke it.

At Victoria University they are working on understanding the potential of cannabinoids, what they can do and whether they are addictive.

There are already are a number of cannabis-derived products on sale overseas.

Some are available here for special cases that require ministerial approval.

Twenty-seven people are currently being treated by a product called Sativex.

Labour MP Damien O'Connor is working on a private members bill to streamline the approval process and make the medicine that's already available more accessible.

"I think the vast majority of New Zealanders know there is sense in using cannabis for people in different situations. We don't want to open the door for decriminalisation, which in my view is one step too far," says Mr O'Connor.

Other countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany and Italy, have already allowed cannabis to be more readily available in medicine.

Story asked New Zealand politicians to comment on the matter. Many who play a role in changing or keeping the law had strong views, but others were undecided.

One of the problems is that people often confuse allowing medicinal cannabis products with legalising the drug for recreation use.

So for many politicians it's a tough issue that's staying in the too-hard basket.

Watch the video for the full Story report.