Thursday, July 17, 2008

She Smokes Seeshas By the Sea Shore

I had been really really hanging out for a spliff since 4:20. However, as I learned on stage at the Classic Comedy Club's New Talent Night way back when, NEVER smoke before a performance. At least, not until it becomes autonomous, repetitive. For yesterday, I lost my media whore virginity and I had to say sober.

Coupla years back, a petition was started supporting a review of medicinal cannabis thing. One Love 2007, I trudged around the hills of the Hataitai velodrome for signatures. Some wouldn't sign because they didn't believe in it. Some wouldn't sign as they were public servants and feared retribution. But many did. Several hundred in fact. Some shared stories, some shared joints. But they gave their name in support.

Around 7,000 signatures were presented in support of medicinal cannabis yesterday (there were a few late entries). I had spent the last week going over our written submission to the select committee which was presented last October. New research was added, as well a few robust rebuttals to the Ministry of Health's written submission.

After years and years of denying that cannabis had ANY therapeutic value, the Ministry of Health had finally admitted that, yes, cannabis has its uses. Back in December 2007, NORML reported that Sativex, a cannabis extract produced by British company GW Pharmaceuticals, was to be permitted by the Ministry of Health and one application was already being processed.

So 16th July 2008, the select committee is ripping into the Ministry of Health as that one application had been declined, while one more was still being processed. The former was returned because the paperwork was insufficient. Not that the applicant was told that. Meantime, people are in misery, people are suffering.

The MPs asked why it was that a specialist as well as a GP had to give authorisation when the more potent morphine only requires a GP's consent. Ummm, said the Ministry. Specialists aren't easily accessed, and the parochial nature of the medical profession gets more conservative the further away one gets from the coal face.

How much does this Sativex cost? Is it expensive? Yes, said the Ministry. It is expensive. The ever-squeezed Pharmac budget will have one more burden to carry. The weak and enfeebled will have to compete with the vocal and strident Herceptin chorus.

Call me an Occam's Razor advocate, but there's a homegrown solution to all this and it doesn't involve big bucks. Weed; the answer that literally grows on trees. Patients could grow their own. Licenced growers could supply to Medicinal Cannabis Card carrying patients. Hell, if the government want to keep absolute control, they could get inmates to grow the stuff behind bars. If there are to be drugs in prisons, might as well make the most of it. It'll certainly give a new outlet for gang competitiveness without resorting to shivs and fists.

I tried this vaporiser out today and wow. And how. Painless, efficient and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This baby might set you back close to $300, but it's money saved as nothing is wasted. No valuable herb lost to the ether, like bongs and pipes. I can see what that Caterpillar was on about now:
Said Alice, "but when you have to turn into a chrysalis- you will some day, you know- and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?"

"Not a bit," said the Caterpillar.

"Well, perhaps your feelings might be different," said Alice; "all I know is, it would feel very queer to me."

"You," said the Caterpillar contemptuously. "Who are you?"
The Ministry of Health could learn from Alice and have a little more empathy.

Must say a big thanks to TV3's Sia Ashton too, who gave Billy McKee a chance to share his story. Ta also to Bill Ralston for putting up with me, a Media N00b, on his Radio Live show. Had an enjoyable joust with Larry Williams on Newtalk ZB, by which time I was adjusting to the format. TVNZ7's News at 8 invited me on for a live interview, too.

After a hard day of prostituting myself for a good cause, I thought I'd wind things down at the Backbencher, watching someone else in the limelight for a change. It was an unexpected surprise to catch up with not only DPF, but also Cactus Kate, who I hadn't seen for over ten years. Didn't hang around long after the show wrapped, as I was thoroughly looking forward to a well-earned spliff while waiting for the bus. Sounds like I left at the right time. Cactus with a head cold is still a formidable party animal.