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Mum, cannabis and me to screen tomorrow

A FILM about medicinal cannabis to help New Zealanders and doctors better understand the science, regulatory and health aspects is showing in a special screening at the Dome tomorrow evening.

The 30-minute documentary film Mum, Cannabis, and Me - The Right To Informed Choice, by the University of Otago’s Victoria Catherwood, challenges the laws and taboos against the use of medicinal cannabis.

It follows the journey of Ms Catherwood’s mother, Dawn, who began using cannabis after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

According to the film, medicinal cannabis is used by 1 in 20 Kiwis over the age of 15 and about 175,000 New Zealanders suffering from chronic diseases were having uninformed conversations about treatment options with their doctors.

Ms Catherwood said she aimed to reduce harm by equipping doctors and the medical community about the relevance of evidence-based medicine so they could have the appropriate medicinal cannabis conversations with patients.

“The patients most at risk are those without the means to access legal cannabinoid medicine. This documentary is for them, and the doctors who treat them.”

The documentary also explores research by medical and legal experts in the field, including the late Helen Kelly’s cancer doctor Anthony Falkov, explaining how doctors can have safe but informed conversations with patients to reduce harm and improve health outcomes.

Dr Michelle Glass shares her cannabinoids research, and Nelson lawyer Sue Grey discusses the legal ramifications for doctors and patients surrounding cannabis law in New Zealand.

The film is being presented here by Ruatoria charitable company Hikurangi Enterprises, which has conducted hemp trials and has the first New Zealand-owned clinical trial for a low THC medical cannabis product starting next year.

The group aims to produce the first medical cannabis grown, manufactured and licensed in New Zealand.

“The film is important because it helps New Zealanders, and particularly those in the medical professions to better understand the science, regulatory and health aspects of cannabis as medicine,” project manager Manu Caddie said.

“The science around health benefits of cannabis has really only been validated in the last 10 years, so it is an emerging field of research but the evidence now exists from clinical trials to give doctors confidence it is definitely useful for a small range of conditions and may be useful for many more. Many clinical trials are underway around the world.”

Earlier this year some products containing cannabidiol (CBD) were dropped from the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations Act, giving the go-ahead for the drug to be imported and prescribed by medical practitioners.

Mr Caddie said there was strong demand but no New Zealand-made products were available.

“We plan to be world leaders in medical cannabis based on our low THC hemp cultivation on the East Coast and are working on both domestic and overseas markets.

“Last week we secured a New Zealand distributor for 260 pharmacies and 50 hospital customers.”

The screening will be followed by a question and answer discussion with Hikurangi Enterprises hemp representatives.