Last night's MediaTake show looking at the way Helen Kelly's public stand on medical cannabis has changed the whole media conversation on that topic is online for viewing now.
The highlight is a powerful personal account by Dr Huhana Hickey on the way her use of the cannabis-based spray Sativex has eased painful spasms associated with her multiple sclerosis, allowed her to cut out morphine, tramadol and other drugs – and got back back into her walking frame for the first time in five years.
Huhana is one of 100 or so New Zealanders approved to use Sativex, but will have to give it up because of the cost – it's not funded by Pharmac and costs her about $1200 a month. Most of the people approved to use Sativex (which requires a special application under the Medicines Act) do not do so because of the cost.
That unfunded status is due in part to the Pharmacology Therapeutics Advisory Committee telling Pharmac last year that the risk of "diversion" (i.e: inappropriate use) was too high in "the New Zealand setting". This doesn't make sense and equivalent bodies elsewhere in the world have taken a very different view.
Also on the show, Chris Fowlie, president of Norml, was articulate and knowledgeable, and the Rev Hirini Kaa was usefully sceptical about wider cannabis law reform. But everyone was on the same page on medical cannabis. Something's got to give.
To round out the programme, Toi and I talked to Stallone Ioasa, the writer and director of the grassroot Samoan identity comedy Three Wise Cousins, which launched from half a dozen screens in South Auckland to take $1 million in cinemas and is still going strong.
We thought it would be a nice idea to open the first show of the new Media Take season with me and Toi shouting at each other, so we got in the voice booth and let rip.
We like it so much we think we might kick off every show like this. But we need a good name for it – te reo Maori or in English. Any ideas?