Stuff co.nz 6 July 2014
A Northland family is being torn apart in their bid to give their six-year-old daughter cannabis.
Jessika and Brendan Guest moved from America to Whangarei last year but Jessika and their two children Jade, 6, and Ethan, 8, are heading back to Colorado where they can legally source cannabis oil to treat Jade’s epilepsy.
Jessika said she believed medicinal marijuana was the best option for Jade, whose condition has worsened in recent months, leaving her suffering more than 30 seizures a day.
Brendan was planning to stay behind to continue working as a truck driver and it was unlikely the family would be reunited in New Zealand unless medical cannabis was legalised.
The alternative was to apply for legally-approved cannabis mouth spray, Sativex. At $1000 for three small bottles, she said the price was “outrageous” and put the drug out of reach.
Sativex has had partial approval in New Zealand since 2008 but was not registered through Pharmac and has only had 53 prescriptions approved, including for repeat patients.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said another pharmaceutical drug Epidolex – a liquid, non-psychoactive cannabinoid – may be considered for market use in the future, following testing in America. But he rejected calls for the Government to run a clinical trial of other medical cannabis products, saying: “I have seen no new evidence that persuades me to seek a change to the current policy.”
The New Zealand Medical Association has supported calls for a medical cannabis trial, which has also gained backing from opposition political groups.
The Law Commission recommended in 2011 that cannabis be legalised for pain relief and managing symptoms of chronic illness.