Huhana Hickey used to take an array of medication each day to help manage her chronic pain.
It never eased it completely and left her feeling 'zombied' and in tears for two hours after work every day.
But for the past four months she hasn't needed the medication and it's all because of a medicinal cannabis mouth spray called Sativex.
The South Auckland woman has gone public alongside 11 other users and caregivers in order to denounce the Ministry of Health's recent review of the criteria for medicinal cannabis use.
The Maori health research fellow says the group believes the Government is dragging its heels on the issue.
"They are just fudging the issue but they are actually playing with the lives of people who don't have the resources.
"They have a duty of care for their citizens and I believe they are breaching that duty of care. They are not meeting their obligations to seek the best health options for the citizens of New Zealand."
Hickey has multiple sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair since 1996.
She has committed to a six-month course of Sativex but is unsure how she is going to continue to pay for it. The unregistered, unfunded drug costs $1200 a month.
It is the only cannabis-based product available in New Zealand that doesn't require ministerial approval from Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
"It has made such a difference, I am terrified of going back off it," Hickey says.
"I haven't needed to take anything else with it and there is no addiction aspect to it.
"It has given me my life back, my writing is back, my cognitive skills are back. I'm not mentally fatigued all the time. I am working full time and I can keep working."
Hickey says she's not in pain anymore and is functioning better than before.
"I am functioning better then I did on morphine, Gabapentin, Tramadol and codeine - I was on all of that multiple times a day. I was zombied.
"My bosses have even noticed the difference, they have seen me pick up. The Government needs to see that first-hand."
Dunne has previously said the feedback from the review was "unanimously supportive that the guidelines and process are sound".
He said more research needed to be done to identify the greatest therapeutic benefits.
"Otherwise we are essentially flying blind and hoping for the best, an approach that flies in the face of evidence-based medicines policy."
INDEPENDENT REVIEW 'URGENT'
The group denouncing the Ministry of Health's review includes cancer patient Helen Kelly, Nelson teenager Alex Renton's mother Rose, and several patients and caregivers who are coming forward for the first time.
Many say they have been forced to operate outside the law in order to find relief from serious, debilitating symptoms.
The group says the review failed to promote patient rights, is misleading and has deceptive scientific claims and biased methodology.
It is calling for an urgent independent review and immediate access to medical cannabis on the same basis as other scheduled medicines such as opiates.
It also wants:
* A properly resourced commitment to undertake wide ranging open-minded consultation with patients, their caregivers and doctors with expertise on this issue.
* Education of patients and their doctors to promote informed choice in decisions which affect patients' health and wellbeing.
* New Zealand to fulfil its human rights obligations to its citizens and to adopt best international practice.