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My about face on medical cannabis

By David Coory

I was born in 1946 – a classic baby boomer. During my Lower Hutt teenage years in the early 1960’s I never once came across or was offered cannabis. To us it was a distant American drug, linked with long-haired scruffy hippies and VW Kombi vans. The drug vices among the youth in our day were half-gallon flagons of beer and Pall Mall cigarettes, not cannabis.

My son Mike’s suggestion Then three years ago, my son Mike who manages the Health House business, asked me to research whether medical cannabis was something worth doing. He and Dr Shaun Holt had been discussing it and they were of the opinion it would be something New Zealand patients would benefit from.

I do my research So, full of baby boomer prejudice that cannabis is a harmful drug – one that kills ambition and encourages laziness, I began researching the health qualities of the original cannabis herb plant. Unlike the specially bred cannabis sold by dealers on the street, the original natural cannabis plant contains mostly CBD and lessor amounts of THC. Wow, what an eye opener. I was amazed at the proven health benefits of this herb.

Pioneer Dr Raphael Mechoulam I soon found that Israel is way ahead of the rest of the world, and was impressed with the research and knowledge of 89 year old biochemist Dr Raphael Mechoulam. He has pioneered the medical use of cannabis since the 1960’s and has published hundreds of scientific papers on the matter since then. For example, he published a scientific paper over 25 years ago on cannabis being used to treat children undergoing cancer treatment and suffering from nausea. He reported, “Vomiting was completely prevented. The side effects observed were negligible.” However, this was not acted upon, due to the unavailability of cannabis legally and prejudice. Yet hundreds of thousands of children all over the world still suffer nausea during cancer treatment.

My current feelings on medicinal cannabis It appears to me now (although I’ve never tried cannabis) that the human body and cannabis plant, have been designed with each other in mind. Natural cannabis with both THC and CBD appears to relax anxiety and normalise many abnormal body and brain functions.

There are so many reported benefits, especially in calming anxiety and reducing pain and nausea, it would take pages to list them.

Cannabis is also more complex than I had imagined. The various cannabinoids along with the essential oils of the different varieties of cannabis (called terpenes) significantly modify the effects of cannabis when taken in the body.

Highest possible quality So I encouraged Mike to proceed with the medical cannabis project while maintaining our Health House uncompromising commitment to quality. The product must be of the highest possible quality and one in which NZ doctors will have full confidence in prescribing.

For the record, I’m strictly not in favour of recreational use of cannabis, or any form of medical intake that involves smoking, but I do consider that the availability of medicinal cannabis at an affordable price is urgent and pressing.