Article Title:Medical Marijuana: Palliative Pot and PLWA's
Category:Living Well
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:21st August 2003 - 12:00 pm
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Story ID:96
Text:Two weeks ago, the Health Select Committee released its long-awaited report on the health status of marijuana. Where it affects our communities is in the detail- the Select Committee recommends the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal usage. Predictably, the Greens and United Future are taking pot-shots at each other over the issue. United Future has promised confidence and supply for the current parliamentary term's minority government if it doesn't introduce a government bill for wholesale decriminalisation of marijuana. However, that doesn't mean a private members bill might not be pulled from the ballot. Moreover, the Greens have a separate private members bill, targeted at the specific issue of medical marijuana. Why is this appearing in's politics column? Medical marijuana is an issue for some People Living With HIV/AIDS. As the Institute of Medicine reports below indicate, protease inhibitor medications have side-effects, and medical cannabis can sometimes halt wasting effects, nausea and appetite loss associated with some combination therapies. New Zealand's Green Cross Society's chair, Greg Soar, is HIV+. On its website, NORML (the National Organisation for Reform of Marijuana Laws) has copious information on medicinal cannabis. Will it get through the current parliament? Curiously, United Future are behaving ambivalently about this one; Peter Dunne and Judy Turner haven't said they will or won't oppose any hypothetical medical marijuana decriminalisation bill, conscious that there is strong clinical evidence that backs this area of incremental decriminalisation, whatever else one might think about wholesale decriminalisation. Seven US states, New South Wales, the Netherlands and Canada have provided medical marijuana user exemptions from prosecution or decriminalisation of medical usage. In Britain, GW Pharmaceuticals is trialing medicinal products based on cannabinoids, targeted at different medical constituencies. Given Pharmac's delays in approval of new protease inhibitors, it may be that medical marijuana could become the newest ancillary gay rights issue (As yet, I am unaware whether any New Zealand or overseas women's health groups have made recommendations for or against use of medicinal cannabis in the context of women's cancers). At the time of writing, the government has eighty days or so to respond to the findings of the Health Select Committee. Let us insure that it chooses compassion and increased palliative care options for PLWAs, if that is their wish. Recommended Reading Janet Joy, Stanley Watson and John Benson (eds) Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base: Division of Neuroscience and Behavioural Health, Institute of Medicine: Washington DC:National Academy Press: 1999: ISBN: 0309071550 New Zealand Holdings: Auckland City Libraries Auckland University of Technology Library Canterbury Medical Library Ministry of Health Information Centre South Waikato District Library University of Auckland Philson Library Wellington Institute of Technology Library Alison Mack and Janet Joy (eds) Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Behind the Controversy: Washington DC: National Academy Press: 2001: ISBN: 0309065313 New Zealand Holdings: Auckland University of Technology Library Eastern Institute of Technology Hawkes Bay Library Invercargill District Library Kapiti District Library Tauranga District Library UCOL Library (Palmerston North) University of Auckland Science Library University of Canterbury Law Library University of Otago Medical Library Waikato Institute of Technology Library Wellington Institute of Technology Library Craig Young - 21st August 2003    
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