Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Review of dope access hailed


Many ailing Kiwis will welcome news that guidelines for considering applications to use cannabis for medical purposes are to be reviewed.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne this week said the need for "fine-tuning" was inevitable, given that medical cannabis was a new policy area for the Ministry of Health and the wider medical profession, and a review of the process was needed.

Labour leader Andrew Little says his party also wants to make it easier to access medicinal cannabis.

The Labour caucus is now debating the issue and will come up with a formal position in the next few weeks.

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It is important to note that this is not a debate about whether or not to legalise cannabis to suit recreational users, it is about providing easier, and hopefully more affordable, access to medicinal cannabis for people suffering symptoms from conditions for which conventional medicines have been ineffective.

People like Bay man Adam Belcher, who became the first New Zealander with Tourette's syndrome to be allowed to use medicinal cannabis spray Sativex.

The breakthrough treatment has been so successful that the man, who the Tourette's Association dubbed the worst case it had ever seen, is enjoying a huge lift in the quality of his life.

Going out in public is no longer a torment of embarrassment caused by his involuntary uttering of swear words and stomping.

The trial, which included a video of his behaviour before and after Sativex, is so compelling that Tauranga Hospital psychiatrist Dr Rupert Bird intends submitting the findings to a medical journal.

However, earlier this year Mr Belcher raised issues about the cost associated with the medication.

He is unable to afford the $1100 prescription cost and said: "What is the point of having medicine you can't afford?"

It's a good question, given the dramatic impact the medication is having on his life.

Hopefully, any review will not only look at the process but also the cost associated with these treatments.

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