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Medical cannabis comes with warning



12 MF-GPOmedcan1 (cropped)-859Medical marijuana seems set to now become part of legal society with the recent announcement that the plant will be made more accessible to pain sufferers.

Associate Minister for Health, Peter Dunne, announced on June 2 that the Government will now give doctors authority to prescribe medicinal cannabis, instead of patients having to seek approval through the Ministry of Health.

Advocates for relaxing the laws around the controversial plant have applauded the move, however a group of local grey power members, renowned advocates for the re-legalisation of cannabis, are concerned that the policy may expose people to more harm.

President of Grey Power Otamatea [GPO], Beverley Aldridge ,says the dangers lie in the use of the man made form of the drug.

“Firstly, medicinal cannabis includes synthetic cannabis and we know how that burns brains,” she says. “Secondly, it is processed by pharmaceutical companies. A major contributor to the cannabis anti-legalisation group in one state of the USA has now produced a synthetic cannabis, and in Canada 80 percent of cannabis from pharmaceutical companies is contaminated with chemicals and sprays.”

Aldridge also says that the price of importing the product will see it out of reach for a lot of people who require the drug for severe pain relief.

“With costs ranging up to $3000 per month… it can only be accessed by the rich… it seems bizarre that components of a beneficial plant… needs to be imported and at such exorbitant amounts.”

Aldridge says GPO support Green MP Julie Ann Genter’s recently submitted Members Bill, which seeks to allow the plant to be grown on Kiwi soil, ensuring affordable access of medicinal cannabis.

In October last year, GPO submitted a 1300-strong petition to re-legalise cannabis to the Justice and Electoral Committee [JEC], who work on electoral issues, human rights and justice matters, before meeting in early May to discuss the benefits of self-grown plants.

Aldridge says she was ‘really pleased’ with how the report was received by JEC and the intelligent questions asked by members.

“They seemed to understand why we need to grow the plant and get the benefits of the unique components… which work synergistically together to heal and alleviate disease,” she says. “We explained that these compounds are not able to be replicated or synthesised safely by drug companies in the laboratory, exemplified by the disaster of our children having their brains fried and being killed with the synthetic cannabis.”

Legalising cannabis is only one of the big issues the GPO advocacy group are tackling to bring about positive change.

The elderly activists are also currently lobbying the government regarding the use of fluoride in town drinking water and have recently taken on the new concern of New Zealand’s waters being shipped off-shore by overseas bottling companies.

Aldridge says their meetings are generally ‘stimulating and productive’.

“There is a lot of lobbying and, at our ages, we don’t have time for that,” she says. “We could be dead tomorrow, so we act as if each day may be our last and make the most of it.”

- By Julia Wade

ELDERLY ACTIVISTS: Taking on the tough issues – Beverley Aldridge [centre] with Grey Power members debating details and plans of action at a monthly meeting.

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