Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless, Helius co-founders Paul Manning and JP Schmidt, BMX Olympian Marc Willers and Dr Huana Hickey came together last night in Takapuna to support the growing number of people interested and now pushing for the use of medicinal cannabis.
To follow is an excerpt from a story in the New Zealand Herald by Vaimoana Tapaleao.
A full version of the article can be found here.
The Xena: Warrior Princess star was speaking on a panel last night as part of an initiative by the Start The Conversation group - an organisation whose aim is to inform the public about cannabis; particularly its medicinal qualities and the impacts of prohibition and legalisation.
The event, held at The Pumphouse Theatre in Takapuna, also featured Paul Manning from biotechnology company Helius Therapeutics, BMX Olympian Marc Willers, medicinal cannabis user Dr Huhana Hickey, and one of the group's founders, Abe Gray.
Lawless became an ambassador for the group after a request was made by the late former president of the NZ Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly, who died from cancer in 2016. She had long supported medicinal cannabis.
Lawless said although she was not a smoker, she was keen to understand more about how cannabis can be used to help those who needed to be free of pain.
"It's not part of my world, but I'm very, very interested in a safer society and most particularly for my friends who are suffering from cancer and conditions that cause a lot of pain and nausea.
"I think it's really cruel and unusual that we withhold a non-toxic, effective natural drug...and criminalise them or the people - their families - who try to supply it for their well-being." – Lucy Lawless
The event comes after National announced last month details of a bill to allow medicinal cannabis products to be treated like any other medicines.
Lawless said she had looked at Portugal as an example of a country which was doing well after its move to decriminalise the use of all drugs in 2001 specifically to fight a heroin epidemic. Figures showed that despite what some disbelievers thought was a hugely risky move, overdose deaths decreased dramatically and the rate of new HIV infections continues to drop each year.