Rongoā expert supports legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use

By Maiki Sherman

An expert in Māori medicine has come out in support of legalising cannabis for medicinal use. 

It comes off the back of a call for a referendum on the issue, raised by former trade unions boss Helen Kelly who is battling cancer. 

This is the massaging technique romiromi, a Māori health remedy practiced by Awhitia Mihaere for over twenty years. 

Mihaere says, "When doing romiromi you can see the different diseases in the liver and you can tell when it's cancer."

As a number of cancer sufferers' plea for medical marijuana to be legalised, Awhitia Mihaere supports them wholeheartedly.

"I absolutely support the idea of legalising medicinal cannabis. Who are we to silence and judge those in need if there are benefits in it for them?" she says.

Although cannabis has never been something Awhitia has worked with, she has seen it in practice, particularly through the use of marijuana oil for massaging those who are ill.

"I saw marijuana being used in oil for massage. It relaxes and eased the body of an elderly woman, and she cried very deeply because she felt her body and soul were rejuvenated," Mihaere adds.

She hopes MPs will consider the request by Helen Kelly for a national referendum on the issue.

"It's for medicinal use only, not to take at parties and to cause violence and what not. This issue is about supporting those who are very ill," she says.

This weekend marks the beginning of the political calendar, where it's hoped the issue of medicinal cannabis will be debated.