Cannabis-Using Crohn’s Disease Patient Faces NZ Court

Medical marijuana - New Zealand
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A Crohn’s Disease sufferer has been convicted in a New Zealand court and sentenced to six months’ supervision for using cannabis to relieve his symptoms.

While the man had legal access to morphine, indicating the serious nature of his condition, he found cannabis more effective in treating his symptoms according to Stuff.co.nz.

The man was apprehended after a police search of his vehicle, triggered by what arresting police officers noted was a strong smell of cannabis emanating from his vehicle.

In imposing the sentence, which could have been harsher under the circumstances, the judge said he was “not blind to the debate that’s going on around the wider medicinal use of cannabis.”

Cannabis products are Class B1 controlled drugs in New Zealand. The nation’s Minister of Health has the power to authorise the medicinal use of marijuana products. However, there have been few applications due to the complex process and limited scope of eligibility – ministerial approval has been granted for only a small number of patients.

Even under authorisation, the use of unprocessed or partially processed marijuana leaf or flower preparations is not supported.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines and is often accompanied by the forming of ulcers and fistulae. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease and in severe cases, it can lead to the need for surgical removal of parts of the intestine; as was the case with this sufferer.

Cannabis has been used for the treatment of bowel conditions for thousands of years. It had been believed to have anti-flammatory, antidiarrhoeal, analgesic and appetite stimulant properties when used in treating related conditions.

A 2013 clinical study confirmed medicinal cannabis sativa has proved to be highly efficient in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). An 8-week treatment with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-rich cannabis saw a decrease the Crohn’s disease activity index in 90% of patients – and without producing significant side effects. In that study, patients were assigned randomly to groups given cannabis, in the form of cigarettes containing 115 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or a placebo containing cannabis flowers from which the THC had been extracted.