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Rotorua businesses help fundraise for medicinal cannabis cause

Rotorua businesses have raised their hands to help fundraise for medicinal cannabis.

Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ) is currently doing a fundraising campaign called #MC410 for legal cannabis treatments for people in a similar situation to Zoe Jefferies, a young Rotorua girl who is responding well to Sativex for her epilepsy.

Sativex is a Ministry of Health-approved cannabis oil-based mouth spray.

MCANZ co-ordinator Shane Le Brun said Rotorua was a great place to fundraise as local businesses often came forward to help.

"Most businesses think we are all a bunch of hippies, but we are quite the opposite."

During the latest campaign Hells Gate donated $500 worth of vouchers and Fernleaf Motel offered a getaway package, while backpackers Crash Palace put a charity box at the front desk for donations.

"We are thankful for all the support Rotorua has shown MCANZ," he said.

Mr Le Brun said they had four main goals but needed funding to make those goals a reality.

"The first is to get Sativex funded and more widely available for those in need.

"The second is getting other products legally available and funded that can help.

"Thirdly, we would like to get funding for medical training for our doctors so they can learn more and be confident in prescribing products like Sativex here."

"And long-term we want to promote and facilitate research inside New Zealand," he said.

Crash Palace owner and NZ Hemp Brokers director Chris Woodney said he was a strong believer in hemp and had gone through the legal channels to set up a hemp-based company.

"This is a plant that can help our people here in New Zealand, it's hugely beneficial. The cannabis seed is super nutritional.

"The hemp industry has been going for a long time, but if we want to see a change we have to do it through the legal channels."

Fernleaf Motel owner Andrew Bell said in his view more people needed access to the treatment.

"The evidence is starting to become overwhelming. You just have to look at Karen Jefferies' daughter Zoe. That treatment has helped her immensely, but it's costing between $1000 to $1200 a month for the treatment. How long can they continue to do that?

"If we can get medical professionals educated then they are able to freely think about it, that would be great," he said.

Lynette David from WaiOra group and Hells Gate said it was an important issue for the community.

"The people who I know who have used it, they have been less stressed and sick.

"It was originally used as natural medicine, but people took it to another level. I have seen the positives, I realise it is a taboo subject, but the fundraising is for people who are so ill it can make their life a little better," she said.

The charity box Mr Woodney put out to collect donations was recently stolen. A person has been charged and will appear in the Rotorua District Court on October 21.

Article written by Kyra Dawson for the Rotorua Daily post.

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