Police in Auckland, New Zealand have confiscated the medical cannabis supply of a 25-year-old tetraplegic that his family had hoped would have lasted him through the rest of the year, the New Zealand Herald reports. Ben Clifford, who has been a tetraplegic since 2015 after breaking his neck diving into a swimming pool, uses cannabis to help control his spasms and muscle pain.
“It can mean the difference for me not being able to drive my powerchair, to being able to drive it,” he said in the report.
Shortly after the police left, his Accident Compensation Corporation-funded Life Plus caregiver – which he requires around the clock – was pulled from the home. Clifford said the ACC, Life Plus, and all of his caregivers knew about his cannabis use.
Kellie Atchison, Clifford’s mother, was told the caregiver was pulled due to “health and safety reasons.”
Hans Wouters, chief executive of the New Zealand Spinal Trust, said caregivers are usually only pulled in “extreme” cases where there is an “extreme danger, like weapons or anything where the carer is in danger.”
“It is extremely unusual in New Zealand,” he said.
Life Plus General Manager Michelle Batchelor declined to comment to the Herald because, “it is part of an ongoing police investigation.”
New Zealand does have a limited medical cannabis program, although it is not clear whether Clifford was authorized under the laws. No one was arrested at the home, which Atchison shares with Clifford and his six-year-old daughter Alizay.