Attitudes towards marijuana are softening, with medicinal cannabis already given the okay and New Zealanders getting the chance to vote to legalise recreational use of the drug next year. We talk to people who use the drug to help ease their pain.
Mama Jenz is a "Green Fairy" and provides homemade cannabis products to sick people who either can't get relief from traditional medication or are using it to supplement other treatments.
The Northland grandmother was her own first patient and attributes cannabis balms, capsules, infused honey and smoking the green stuff with helping her through serious bowel and heart conditions.
Currently the use of cannabis in New Zealand is regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, which makes unauthorised possession of any amount of the substance a crime.
Cannabis is the fourth-most widely used recreational drug in New Zealand after caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, and the most widely available and used illicit drug.
But those seeking pain relief by using cannabis do not acknowledge the 44-year-old law.
"I'm a terminal survivor thanks to cannabis. I don't fit the criteria for pharmaceutical cannabis because I have clinical toxicity so therefore I use the black market," Mama Jenz says.
She was given six months to live after her doctor doubted she would celebrate her 50th birthday. It was then, in late 2016, she turned to homemade cannabis balms and cannabis coconut oil capsules.
"I'm three years passed my death date," she says with a laugh.
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"I haven't gone a day without using one of my products since I was told I was going to die."
Mama Jenz admits she used cannabis regularly for about 11 years when she was in an abusive relationship. But on leaving the man she also left the cannabis world behind.
But her genetic heart disorder started catching up with her as an adult and that, combined with bowel deterioration because of the medications she was taking, forced her to look at alternatives.
"Someone telling you that you won't make your 50th birthday makes thinks about all your options."
Through Facebook she managed to find advice and thanks to a kind "Green Fairy" she received a pack of green goodies that eased her pain and helped her regain control of her life.
Taking the oil capsules twice a day and massaging the balm on her stomach gave her relief from the debilitating pain.
"The pain went from 15 out of 10 to 7 out of 10 ... there was no more bowel bleeding. I went from 16 pills a day to zero.
She's adamant about the benefits: "If I didn't use it I would be dead three years ago."
She decided to make her products and utilise Northland's copious amounts of organically grown cannabis.
The products include herbs like calendula, sage, lavender and Mama Jenz uses a mix of CBD cannabis and whole-plant cannabis.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't have a strong effect on cognitive brain activity and doesn't cause the "high" associated with marijuana.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive element in marijuana.
She says feedback from clients is great, from people being able to get out of their wheelchairs after many years to people being able to use their hands after arthritis caused continuous pain.
She will be voting yes in the referendum at next year's election.
"I know the positive [effect] this can have in people's lives."
Another Northland woman, who did not want to be named, said she had seen the relief cannabis-laced cake had given her dying father.
"He had a better quality of life in his dying days because we gave it [cannabis] to him," she said.
"I just don't understand why it's not legal now. It's only legal if you are dying ... it's a natural product."
She remembers her father, a once physically fit man who was a bit of a foodie, deteriorate so badly she had to help him to the toilet. But she and a friend managed to get some cannabis and made a cake.
"It's an illegal drug and we really didn't know how to buy it so it was a big deal.
"We gave him a piece of cake and after one hour he was pain-free. I hadn't seen him so pain-free, so completely and so quickly before. He was able to walk to the toilet himself."
Just three years ago a family friend dying of prostate cancer smoked cannabis to relieve his pain.
"He swore by it and indulged in it until he died."
The response to a Northern Advocate post on Facebook asking for people's personal experiences with taking cannabis for pain drew plenty of comments.
Riki Ngakoti said his uncle was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. Cannabis was grown for him and used to stimulate his appetite so he could get a bit of food every now and then. He also used it for the unbearable pain until his passing.
"It was preferred by him because the prescribed drugs where turning him into a non communicative zombie ... it was about quality of life not a prolonged death."
Kevin Jones said he has used cannabis for 45 years and it was great for anxiety, pain and insomnia. "Far more beneficial than the alcohol that our elected politicians pour down their neck at our expense."
Dyan Taylor was "anti" the drug until her mum, who was suffering a terminal illness, was zonked out on morphine.
"Some locals gave her some dope and she would have a few puffs and not need the morphine. Mum did this for about six months and actually enjoyed meeting her friends, socialising, singing and dancing for her remaining days.
"I certainly changed my attitude and now support medicinal use. Saw it with my own eyes."
Cath Piggott was succinct in her comment: " I don't smoke but legalisation is my vote. Spend public money on addressing bigger problems in society."