What do Paul Holmes, Martin Crowe, and Helen Kelly all have in common?
We know or knew them as hard-working New Zealanders, who rose to the top in their fields. All heroes to young people who aspire for greatness. And, when dealing with terminal illness, they all turned to medical cannabis.
Patients are being denied effective treatment because of a reputation their medicine has as a recreational drug.
There is no doubt that cannabis works as a treatment for a multitude of ailments, for millions of people around the world. In some cases, it's the only thing that works.
We hear a lot these days about cancer patients using cannabis. It works as pain relief, when other drugs don't work or have significant side-effects. Paul Holmes' wife said that Paul chose cannabis over a concoction of other drugs that "sent him off to la la land."
Martin Crowe abandoned chemotherapy altogether, which is understandable as chemo can come with extremely unpleasant side-effects. He switched to cannabis and according to a close friend was sleeping 15 "happy hours" a day.
Helen Kelly uses a cannabis product to help with pain, nausea and appetite issues as she continues her chemotherapy. She has actually tried to get a legal supply of a cannabis-based medicine, and has documented the process.
It is extremely frustrating seeing the hoops she has to jump through just to make an application, which has not been approved. She must prove that she has exhausted all other treatment options and get the permission of a number of medical specialists, and the cannabis itself must be tested by an accredited laboratory.
All at the same time as she continues to source cannabis on the black market because she's found a treatment that works for her – there's absolutely no question that she'll do what she can to use the medicine that helps her most. Wouldn't you?
If there's anything more heart-breaking than robbing people of proven, effective relief at the end of their life, it is stories about children who also need cannabis-based medicines, particularly for some forms of epilepsy, whose parents have to take a gamble by making the medicine themselves out of whatever cannabis they can get their hands on.
Take the Hawke's Bay mother who has spoken to the media, understandably anonymously, about having to prepare a cannabis-based medicine for her daughter with Dravet syndrome.
After tirelessly researching her daughter's disease online, she found too many recommendations of cannabis-based treatments to ignore. She grew her own cannabis and made the cannabis oil herself.
In 2012, her daughter was hospitalised 120 times. After she began taking medical cannabis, that number dropped to just eight times in 2014.
There are plenty of other arguments, such as the economic potential of a medical cannabis industry in New Zealand, the promising but incomplete research that suggests that cannabis could actually reduce and irradiate some forms of cancer, or philosophical arguments about a person's right to choose what goes in their own body.
But we don't need to go any further than thinking about a Hawke's Bay mum who is desperately trying to do the best by her daughter, has found a treatment that works, and who is a criminal in the eyes of the law because that treatment happens to be cannabis.
Educate yourself. Check out the documentaries made by Dr Sanjay Gupta, an esteemed American neurosurgeon and health commentator who was against medical cannabis until he decided to make a documentary about it and found the evidence in favour overwhelming.
Read why the New Zealand Law Commission, the Drug Foundation, the New Zealand Medicine Association, and plenty of other well-respected organisations are urging the Government to review their archaic stance.
It's time to stop letting decades of conservatism and misinformation harm Kiwis.