Opinion: In one world, opioids remain a vital and so far irreplaceable medical tool.
In another, they are destructive, addictive drugs that keep criminal operations in business and wreak havoc among individual users.
The difference is in the application; one is about controlled use at the direction of medical specialists, the other the domain of a black market pushing drugs on willing buyers who quickly become victims.
And so to cannabis. In one world, it can be a medical tool recognised by a number of jurisdictions as helpful in treating a range of conditions.
It is said to help reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV-AIDS and treat chronic pain, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
Cannabis is easily grown and presumed to be less harmful than alcohol, nicotine and other common and lawful substances.
It seems medicinal cannabis will soon have its day in New Zealand.
A petition presented to Parliament by Nelson woman Rose Renton and signed by more than 17,000 people has received cross-party support.
Her son Alex was the first Kiwi to be treated legally by imported medical cannabis after he’d spent three months in hospital with a prolonged seizure.
Let’s be clear. The petition calls for a law change to allow registered medical practitioners to prescribe medicinal cannabis such as commercially produced Sativex to patients with terminal illness or permanent chronic pain.
It is not about decriminalising, home-growing or black market distribution. It is not about allowing legal sale of a recreational drug.
If cannabis has proven efficacy, there is no difference in allowing its use to that of aspirin also based originally on a natural product, willow bark.
Paranoia around medicinal cannabis is not the sole domain of users. It has coloured the thinking of lawmakers and keepers in this country for too long.
Medicinal cannabis is non-hallucinogenic and far less damaging than other medical drugs such as methadone.
Our lawmakers should get over their prejudices and follow the science assuming the evidence is robust.