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The Team

Shane Le Brun – Coordinator

I come from a military background, where I was once upon a time very narrow minded about the concept of MC. However my wife injured her lower back, 3 months after we were married, and with the issues surrounding ACC in the late 2000s, obfuscation occurred, and treatment delayed, resulting in her being left with chronic pain despite finally getting the best surgical option available in NZ. I have witnessed the ups and downs of Opiate-based pain medications, Enemas, overdoses induced by an ambulance crew, and neonatal withdrawals from opiates of our new-born son.

Because of my technical military background, where I was first of my peer group to get promoted to corporal, I have developed some transferable skills, small team/first line management, adult education and many others. Since leaving the Army I have studied ICT for 2 years and am currently working as a Server Administrator. I have developed a sound knowledge of analgesics, and strongly support the concept of standardised MC products as an alternative to the harder pain medications.

Since running out of options for my wife I have been active in the MC community, particularly running a website and blogging some patient stories, and after nearly 2 years observing I feel that a reputable charity is the way forward, and not the negative picketing and online abuse hurled at certain politicians, which only tarnishes the MC movement generally and distracts people from the core issue, the patients. I hope with my background to be able to pull together a small team of motivated people and keep them motivated for the sake of the patients, of all ages and disabilities.

Chairperson Dr Huhana Hickey MNZM

I hold an LLB/BSoc Sci, LLM (Distinction) and a PhD in Law and Tikanga Maori from the University of Waikato.  I have also been  a solicitor at Auckland Disability Law (the first disability community law centre in New Zealand) (2008-2012) and am an advisor with Health Sciences at the Auckland University of Technology, Akoranga, Auckland (2012-2016). Huhana is currently an HRC Post-doctoral fellowship at AUT researching the health and disability issues for whanau hauaa (Māori with disabilities).

I have been an indigenous peoples’ representative for the International Disability Association steering group caucus during the development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and I am still involved with the IDA international networks.  I have held several governance roles, am a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand, and life member of Rostrevor House. I still remain committed to closing gaps and disparities for all people with disabilities, but out of my own personal need, I have taken up the torch for the controversial Issue that is Medical Cannabis, which has helped me greatly with treating my MS related spasticity and pain, you can read more about my success with Medical Cannabis elsewhere on this website.

Sam Bartels – Secretary

I am the father of two beautiful girls, Leah and Anya. Both girls have a rare terminal genetic encephalopathy, encompassing seizures and a raft of other conditions. Angel Leah passed away peacefully at home in March 2015 at the age of two and a half after a long stay (one of many) in hospital. Leah had been through the long list of medications put together by Starship Children’s Hospital and an application for Sativex was about to be made, sadly the current system’s tight criteria meant that the availability of this option was “too little, too late”.

I would like to see compassionate access to safe MC products. I would like to see that seriously ill children should not have to exhaust a list of over a dozen medicines before having the option of being able to trial MC, and in terminal conditions it should be the parent’s choice as to what medications their child is on. I believe that adults should have the option to use MC without discrimination. It is also important that doctors and the health sector in general are better educated about MC.

My wife and I work part-time while also caring for Anya. I have a PhD in Computer Science and work as an IT Research Engineer. I am reliable and approachable with the ability to relate effectively and sensitively to people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. I have excellent communication skills, and I enjoy challenges and learning new concepts.

Medical Liason – Nichola Smith

My name is Nichola Smith and I graduated as a Registered Nurse in 2000. My experience is vast, and goes from Neo-natal Unit to Elderly Rehab, and Emergency to all Adult Specialities. I have also worked extensively in Rest Homes and Mental Health. Some of this has been community based but most has been through the District Health Board. I currently work for the NZ Police taking blood off drunk/drug drivers. This is very part time and calls for my communications skills to be to notch, as dealing with difficult, drunk people is the norm. I also volunteer for Lifeline, doing one shift per week. With a strong voice and excellent communication skills, I am adept at listening, providing advice and being an advocate for those who are weaker than I.

I gained a Master of Nursing (hons) in 2012 through Massey University. I completed papers in Advanced Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, Pain Management, Adult and Child Health and Research, before completing my dissertation on the experiences of nurses with a mental illness-titled The Art of Resilience. I continue to hold New Zealand nursing registration with the Nursing Council with no restrictions

As a Registered Nurse I believe wholeheartedly in a holistic approach. In our approach to healing we must embrace the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects, and I am very grateful that the use of Medicinal Cannabis (MC) is at last gaining traction in our society. My personal motivation for MC is that I too suffer from chronic pain condition, that has spiralled out to secondary conditions, where an MC product could likely treat several underlying issues, greatly reducing my cocktail of medicines. As a nurse working for the police, and wishing to continue being a nurse, illicit MC is not an option!