Medicinal cannabis patients are banding together to call for a ‘yes’ vote in September’s cannabis referendum.
This week, Medicinal Cannabis Awareness New Zealand is launching a social media campaign to implore New Zealanders to vote yes and fully legalise cannabis through a controlled framework.
The social media campaign features the faces of some of the many thousands of patients who still cannot access affordable medicinal cannabis, in spite of New Zealand’s new medicinal cannabis law.
Although New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis regime officially took effect on April 1 of this year, most patients are still forced to rely on the black market. This is due to the extremely high costs of pharmaceutical-style cannabis products.
For this reason, Medicinal Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ), a charity dedicated solely to the needs of medicinal users, has come out in support of the referendum.
The referendum would legalise the sale of quality-controlled cannabis products at significantly more affordable prices than what is currently available.
The MCANZ social media campaign, organised by medicinal cannabis patient Karen Vincent, features the faces of sick New Zealanders whose families are being forced to pay astronomical costs for legal medicinal cannabis products. They include:
- Caren, who uses prescription cannabis to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome; her prescription costs $4950 per year.
- Eddie, a young boy who takes cannabis to treat his epilepsy; his prescription costs over $20,000 per year.
- Huhana, who uses prescription cannabis to treat her multiple sclerosis. Her prescription costs over $11,600 per year.
- Scott, who uses prescription cannabis to treat arachnoiditis caused by a medical misadventure. He has spent $46,456 on prescription cannabis since 2015.
Karen Vincent, who has suffered from a severe neuropathic pain condition for 19 years, decided to take the initiative to organise the new social media campaign after witnessing the level of public misconception around the medicinal cannabis regime.
“There’s a misconception that the average sick Kiwi can easily access this medicine,” Vincent says. “In truth it is not readily available and is financially unobtainable for most sick Kiwis.”
Vincent is one of the quiet majority who have been forced to rely on illegal sources of cannabis in order to manage their symptoms. “For years I wanted to ditch conventional pharmaceuticals that left me numb to my life,” she says. “They helped dull the pain but really stole the ‘real’ mum that I wanted to be.”
Regarding cannabis, she says: “My only option was the black market as I knew I could never cover the $4000 annual costs. My illness has cost my family too dearly already before I take away from our weekly budget.”
“My desire in producing the images is to put a human face and dollar figures on the reality of the current laws for New Zealand patients,” Vincent says. “The YES vote will give patients options for more affordable medicines.”
For more information on how the adult use referendum intersects with the needs of patients, visit the MCANZ referendum FAQ
Karen Vincent, social media campaign coordinator: 022 045 2245
Cohen Brown, Patient with rare condition, Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) 0211147479
Mark Crotty, MCANZ spokesperson: 0223872919
Shane Le Brun MCANZ Coordinator 027 581 8305