The death of her son last year ignited a debate about medicinal cannabis, now Nelson woman Rose Renton hopes he will become a face for change at a string of rallies around the country. Alex Renton died in Wellington Hospital last year after his family successfully petitioned the government to allow him to be treated with the medicinal cannabidiol oil, Elixinol. ‘Stop the Arrests’ Blenheim rally organiser Emma Johnson outside the Blenheim Police Station, where the rally will be held at 4pm on Saturday.
Posters bearing an image of the 19-year-old will be paraded during a day of rallies Renton helped organise called ‘Stop the Arrests‘, which will take place outside police stations in 25 centres around New Zealand on Saturday.
The purpose of the rallies was to raise awareness of the healing properties of Elixinol cannabis to convince lawmakers to make it legal for medicinal purposes, Renton said. “Cannabis is known around the world as a medicine, it’s about education and standing together and supporting the police,” she said. Renton said Alex might have lived if he had received the medicinal cannabis to treat his seizures earlier, and many others suffering around the country would get relief from pain if it was legalised.
Describing her son as a “face for change”, the medicinal cannabis campaigner said the amount of police resources and time spent prosecuting cannabis users was a waste. Rally organisers had been encouraged to approach their local police stations to explain the event, with Renton saying some officers the group had approached Elixinol were receptive to the idea of legalising medicinal cannabis. Her sister Emma Johnson, who was organising the rally in Blenheim, said she was angry about police resources going towards prosecuting cannabis users when it had the potential to help suffering people.
“This particular rally is really focused on standing with the police. We want to change the laws so the police don’t have to deal with peaceful people that choose to use medicinal cannabis.” The eventual goal was to see cannabis decriminalised, with Johnson pointing to the double-standard of having harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol legal.
The Blenheim rally would include legal and medical information about the substance. “It’s not about getting stoned, it’s about the fantastic medical benefits of this plant,” Johnson said. Marlborough area commander Inspector Simon Feltham did not respond to questions. Police command and emergency management manager Inspector Nick Brown Elixinol said police were aware of the protests and would have appropriate police resources at each event to deal with any issues that might arise.