Joan Cowie, a 64-year-old Auckland grandmother, says she suffers from “horrid” pain when she’s not taking cannabis.
“It can be piercing, and if I lay on my side and bring my arm over, it feels like something is being squashed in my chest,” she says. …
Then, two years ago, she was told she had terminal lung cancer.
“I cried. I thought I was going to die. Well, I knew I was going to die,” she says. …
Cowie turned to Facebook to ask for help to access the drug after reading about its potential benefits.
“I was absolutely terrified,” she says. “I knew it was illegal, and I was frightened that the police might be watching that particular page, but I had no other choice.”
Since using cannabis, Cowie says her appetite has returned, her pain has been relieved, and she can get a good night’s sleep.
“It’s a blessing,” she says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a god-send.”
Cowie had never been a cannabis user, and as a mother she warned her six children to stay away from the drug. …
Howes is afraid of what could happen to her family if police decide to target her cannabis use.
“I worry that I may lose my children,” she says. “I take good care of my children, and I don’t believe they need to be out of my care because I take medical cannabis.”
Cowie carries copies of her cancer diagnosis in her handbag in case she ever has to explain to police why she’s carrying cannabis.
“That way at least if I get pulled over I can show that I’m not lying, I have got cancer,” she says.
Smith acknowledges that technically she’s a criminal, but doesn’t identify with the label.
“I really don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong,” she says. “It’s the law that’s wrong. I’m just trying to help my quality of life, and make it worth being around for.”
The women all agree that legally available cannabis extract products such as Sativex and Tilray are out of reach – with a month of treatment costing as much as $1200.
There is no way Mrs Cowie should be forced to risk criminal prosecution just for accessing effective pain relief for her cancer.
There is a bill before Parliament that will mean cancer sufferers who possess (or grow) cannabis for their personal medical use will no longer be criminals.
MPs who vote against this bill even going to select committee will look heartless.