Cannabis as medicine 'belongs to the people' - campaigner

The AM Show 11/12/2018

A medicinal cannabis campaigner has slammed the Coalition Government's Bill on the medicine as weak and is upset with the politicians she believed "touted compassion".

Rose Renton, whose son Alex died in 2015 after fighting to be treated with medicinal cannabidiol oil for seizures he was suffering, said she doesn't trust the Government to properly deal with the issue.

On Tuesday afternoon, the medicinal cannabis Bill is expected to pass its final reading with the intent of increasing the availability of medicinal cannabis products and allowing for their domestic manufacturing.

Recent changes to the legislation enable varieties of cannabis already grown in New Zealand to be used by licensed manufacturers and those in palliative care to have access - not just people with terminal illnesses as originally planned.

But Ms Renton doesn't think that is enough, criticising the Government for not having a defined scheme of how to allow access for people to the medicine.

"It is progress forward. It is too small still. It is not enough. We are 20 years behind the world on this. I am not sure what the hold-up is," she said.

"I am worried about... a regulated market controlled by the Government who hasn't listened to the trend for twenty years... They could talk to me. I could give them a good scheme."

Ms Renton said she could provide the Government with strains of the cannabis rich in CBD and low in THC, far less powerful than the "rocket fuel" sold on the streets.

However, she doesn't think the Government really understands the issue.

"They don't know what to grow... a sensible Government could, a compassionate Government could. How many of us gave away our votes to a coalition Government that touted compassion. We are over a year since then."

She said she had "five or six" people a day contacting her to get medicinal cannabis and their horrific stories proved the Government was acting too slow.

"There is some hope. But it is not enough. Grow your own. It belongs to the people".

"There is a quote in the Bible, I wish I had it, I just don't own a Bible, that says 'I would give you every plant and seed on the earth for your medicine and food', well the Government is stopping that."

In 2015, Alex was allowed to be treated with the medicinal product as a one-off while he was induced in a coma at Wellington Hospital where he was suffering from acute prolonged epileptic seizures. However, despite the treatment, he later died.

Watch the full interview with Rose Renton above.

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