Stuff.co.nz 28 January 2014
Getting high may be legal, medically speaking, but it helps if you’re rich.
Ministry of Health figures show that almost nobody is using the medical cannabis mouth spray Sativex.
Medical cannabis users and advocates say that with a price tag of about $1300 a month, most patients were ignoring the spray and opting for the cheaper, but illegal, option of smoking cannabis instead.
At present, only four people have an active prescription for the spray and only 48 have ever received ministry approval.
The medication has been available with a sign-off from the health minister since 2008. In 2010, it was approved more widely for treatment of multiple sclerosis, but all other medical uses still require ministerial sign-off.
The low uptake of the spray has sparked renewed calls to subsidise Sativex and in the meantime, to treat people who break the law for medical reasons more leniently.