Change of medical cannabis law after death of Nelson teen is ‘matter of time’

By July 14, 2015 Recent News

Stuff 14 July 2015
The death of a Nelson teenager whose family advocated for the use of medical cannabis has sparked a national debate and will lead to a change in the law, say advocates.

Nineteen-year-old Alex Renton died on July 1 after being in Wellington Hospital for three months, sedated with a range of drugs to stop him having mysterious seizures. His mother Rose campaigned to have medical cannabis used in his treatment, the treatment was eventually granted by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

Nelson lawyer Mark Dollimore said Renton’s story had “reactivated” the debate around medical marijuana. He saw that even through the courts there was more legitimacy and understanding around using cannabis as pain relief.

He also wanted to remind people that cannabis also did an “enormous amount of harm” which was why it was illegal in the first place.

Victoria Davis, who several years ago was discharged without conviction on a possession of cannabis charge after arguing that it was for her husband’s pain relief, said she hoped Renton’s story would help people start to understand how the cannabis plant could be used.

“We need to get over our hysteria about cannabis for medicinal purposes. We could be a leader in the world. Lets start being smart and not turn our backs because people are scared.”

Davis said she was generally ardently against adolescents using cannabis because of the potential damage on their developing brains. But medicinal use on consenting adults was different. The only thing that was needed was more vision from lawmakers, she said.

“Society is changing but the Government is not.”