Dr Bryce Edwards writes
Former CTU president Helen Kelly has mounted a campaign that seeks to reform the government’s procedures over medicinal cannabis. Kelly has blogged about her predicament and campaign – see: Life and death and Cannabis. This must-read post sets out her problems with getting appropriate treatment.
Blogger Russell Brown is strongly critical of what he believes are unreasonable and poorly thought out bureaucratic hoops applicants must jump through to meet the Ministry of Health’s criteria – see his blog post, Helen Kelly’s letter.
Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has responded to such criticism saying “The application has… been deferred, not declined, by the ministry, until it receives the information it had requested. The delay in resolving this case, rests, for whatever reason, with the oncologist’s ongoing lack of response” – see Jo Moir’s Former union boss given two months to live – nearly a year ago.
The only approved medicinal cannabis in New Zealand is the mouth spray Sativex. It is not funded by Pharmac and costs over $1000 a month. Any other product must be approved by Dunne. Moir reports that “As of January 27, the ministry had received 120 applications for medicinal cannabis, of which 105 have been approved. Another five are still in progress and 10 have not been granted for various reasons including the application being withdrawn, cancelled, declined or incomplete.”
Peter Dunne continues to receive a lot of flak for his role in the process, especially in relation to Helen Kelly’s request. But not everyone is laying the blame entirely at Dunne’s feet. In his post, Kia kaha, Helen Kelly, Russell Brown argues that the Minister is far from being the main problem: “Dunne is habitually, and often unfairly, pilloried in these matters. Yet in delivering the new National Drug Policy last year, he had to carefully navigate the National government’s cynical and entirely political stance on drug law reform to become the first minister to acknowledge that a significant portion of the harm from illicit drugs lies in the laws that make them illicit. Dunne is also constrained by the official advice he receives.”