Medicinal cannabis doco hopes

A medical student hopes her planned documentary about medicinal cannabis will take the debate forward.
Otago University medical student Victoria Catherwood. Photo: Peter McIntosh.
Otago University medical student Victoria Catherwood. Photo: Peter McIntosh.

Victoria Catherwood, a fifth-year University of Otago medical student, was in Dunedin yesterday for course work. Her film would look at legal, medical, and scientific perspectives, and sought to educate doctors, she said.

"Currently in medical school all we get taught about is cannabis harms."

She had received much support from fellow medical students, and more cautious support from doctors, Miss Catherwood said.

"A lot of doctors I’ve spoken to behind closed doors seem to be very on board."

Based in Blenheim at Wairau Hospital at present, Miss Catherwood is fundraising to help pay the production costs and has interviewed medicinal cannabis users.

"The patients are telling us on the whole they have tried everything ... and it works. They didn’t expect it — most of them were very sceptical and anti-drugs."

The film would cite research showing the benefits, but it would not shy away from highlighting potential harm.

"I am in favour of full decriminalisation.

"But right now because it’s so controversial we need to stick to the medical argument."

Because many users were self-medicating, they lacked access to medical support and advice about issues such as drug interactions. Miss Catherwood (31) obtained a master’s degree in cell molecular biology before starting her medical degree.

Her interest in medicinal cannabis started when she saw the benefits in someone close to her, she said.


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