Cannabis protester prepared to starve
LOIS CAIRNS - Sunday Star Times (20/2/2011)
A TIMARU cancer patient facing a jail term for growing cannabis he uses to alleviate pain says he will go on a hunger strike if he gets locked up.
Peter Davy, 51, has pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis and to other related drug charges, but says he uses the drug only for medicinal purposes for himself and his partner, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
It is not the first time he has been before the courts on drug charges and the judge indicated that when Davy is sentenced on March 16 he can expect to receive a jail term.
But Davy is refusing to go quietly.
"I will be going on a hunger strike the moment I am given a prison sentence and I absolutely do not want to be force-fed under any circumstances. I will also be refusing all cancer medication.
"I am 100% committed to continuing with a hunger strike until I am dead," said Davy. "I hate confrontation and I hate publicity, but I have nothing to lose and somebody has to make a stand... or nothing ever changes."
Davy, who has done extensive research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis, says he started smoking cannabis only after he was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour 10 years ago and discovered it helped alleviate the symptoms better than any drugs the doctors could prescribe him.
"Not one legal drug had the slightest beneficial effect. They turned me into a zombie, slowed my brain to a standstill and made it feel like mush, made me suicidal," he said. In desperation he tried cannabis, and it helped.
He did not support the use of cannabis as a recreational drug and accepted its potentially dangerous side, but he believed that for people like himself and his partner, who were in constant pain because of terminal illnesses, cannabis use should be permitted.
"It is cruel in the extreme to prevent access to cannabis for MS sufferers. I challenge anybody to watch what my partner goes through on a daily basis and then look me in the eye and say she should not be allowed access to cannabis if it makes her life even a tiny bit more bearable.
"It's easy to make these decisions about other people when you're perfectly healthy yourself, but try walking a mile in my partner's footsteps.
"I believe in medical marijuana – not as an excuse for recreational use – but as a scientifically proven medicine for specific conditions."
Medicinal cannabis use is legal in 13 states in the United States and in Canada, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, but it is illegal here.
The Law Commission has proposed changing that to allow people suffering from chronic or debilitating illnesses to use cannabis under medical supervision, a proposal that has the backing of the Medical Association, which supports the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for people with specific conditions provided it is subject to the same evidence-based testing as any drug used for the same reason.
But Justice Minister Simon Power has indicated he will not be changing the law.
Pro-cannabis spokesman Abe Gray said Davy's case was one of the most tragic illustrations of why existing laws needed reform.
Nothing would be gained by sending him to jail and if he did go on a hunger strike, the government would have blood on its hands.
- Sunday Star Times