© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Patrick Gower: Weed could've helped my mum

Dan O'Connor
PG in LA
Gower took a multicultural, multifaceted approach to making the documentary. Mediaworks (Supplied)

Newshub journalist opens up ahead of his two-part documentary, Patrick Gower: On Weed, which aims to better inform the public about the drug.

In 2006 Newshub Journalist Patrick Gowers Mother, Joan, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. After a painful, year-long battle, she died at just 57.

"Anyone whose lost a relative to cancer will know the amount of suffering that people go through and how harrowing that is for families as they try to deal with the pain that their loved ones are in and my family's no different," Gower said.

"It was awful to see my mum suffering."

In the documentary, Gower interviews his father, Gordon, about his mother's last days, weeks, and months when they were pumping her full of morphine to manage her pain.

"The reason for that [interview] is I want to know if cannabis could've helped my mum at that time... We didn't give her any," Gower said.

"I look back now and I wonder whether we should have."

Gower said he felt like he had failed his Mum by not giving her cannabis as a treatment option.

"I am a firm believer that medical cannabis could've helped my mum and could still help the many thousands of New Zealanders who are out there in pain right now."

PG with his father
Patrick Gower with his Dad, Gordon Mediaworks

New Zealand is facing a "massive decision" with the upcoming 2020 cannabis referendum, according to Gower.

He said there was a lot of disinformation and myths about weed.

"I wanted to blow some of those away and a documentary is the best way of doing that."

Gower said despite weed being a big part of New Zealand life some people didn't know anything about it.

"[People] don't know for instance that medical cannabis doesn't mean taking a bong into some sick or dying relative... that it could mean taking it in a drop to help them sleep," Gower said.

"There's a misconception that weed is just about getting stoned...its about way more than that...that's why it is such a big decision and why we need to educate people."

Gower said his mission was to understand more about the people of New Zealand involved or affected by cannabis rather than just reporting on them or the issues surrounding them.

In the making of the documentary, Gower travelled across New Zealand talking to people involved with cannabis from illegal dealers and growers to the people, who use it medically, and the "green fairies", who give it to them.

PG declines weed from Weed Jesus
Patrick Gower declines weed from Weed Jesus Mediaworks

One particular person that stood out for Gower was Gandalf, a so-called "green fairy", who grows the plant illegall but for medical use.

"Gandalf is a great character. He's called Gandalf because he looks like Gandalf and he lives up in the bush," Gower said.

"One of the best things about him – I didn't put this in the doco – he hasn't worn underpants for 46 years. He stopped wearing undies when he was 16. He doesn't believe in them. You don't meet people like that everyday."

Gower also went to the US states of Colorado and California, and to Canada, all places where marijuana is legal.

Gower said visiting the US and Canada opened him up to a commercial culture of cannabis that we don't have in New Zealand.

PG gets shitty advice in LA
Patrrick Gower gets shitty advice Mediaworks

"When you go to California and you realise that you can get weed in tea; You can get weed Uber, that is a weed delivery service that comes with a complimentary pizza; when you can get weed in a sachet that you can put in your pump water bottle; You know that things are different."

Gower said he had taken a "multi-country, multi-faceted look at weed".

He claimed to know "more about weed than anyone in New Zealand" now.

"The fact that I have been able to look at all the different dimensions. I've been with the police. I've been with the criminals. I've been with the people planting and pulling out the weed. I've been with the scientists. I've been with the competing companies. I've been with the big companies overseas."

Part 2 of Patrick Gower: On Weed will air on TV3 at 8.30pm on September 18. Part 1 aired earlier this week.