NZ Herald reports on a Herald-DigiPoll on cannabis that found 70% want medical pot legal.
An overwhelming number of New Zealanders support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.
Poll voters were asked which statement best fitted their view on the legalisation of cannabis.
- Wanted the drug legalised only for medicinal use under strict conditions – 70%
- Wanted it kept illegal for all uses – 15%
- Wanted it legalised for all uses – 13%
The poll of 750 eligible voters was taken on August 14-24 and has a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.
That’s a total of 83% who would support medical cannabis. That doesn’t surprise me, but the low number wanting it legalised does. The medical cannabis option may have distorted that.
Mr Dunne said the results were not surprising. “The reason I’ve been interested in exploring the medicinal cannabis aspect is reflective of that type of feeling.”
In March, Mr Dunne told the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna that evidence of the benefits of medicinal cannabis was underwhelming, and he stuck by that statement.
“There’s not a great deal of evidence around, there are trials being undertaken … but hard evidence as to beneficial impact is difficult to come by.
“But if it is beneficial and passes muster, then there’s no reason why [certain products] shouldn’t be made available.”
There’s support from Labour and the Greens.
Labour MP Damien O’Connor, who began drafting a private member’s bill to allow better access to medicinal cannabis after Mr Renton’s case, said he still hoped to put a bill forward, but was encouraged by Mr Dunne’s approach. “Ensuring we get the legislation right, that it does just open the door for medicinal purposes, is absolutely crucial.”
Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague said the party supported the use of medicinal cannabis.
Getting National to agree to any changes will be more difficult, but if sufficient favourable research is done the availability of medical cannabis products could be done under current law.
Despite signing off Mr Renton’s medication, Mr Dunne said it did not create a precedent – rather, a long-available procedure to get approval for a restricted product had been used for the first time.
Any impression the floodgates have been opened were “wrong and naive”, Mr Dunne said, but he has asked officials to watch medicinal cannabis product trials overseas, including in Australia and the United States.
If new medicinal cannabis products – likely to be sprays or oils – were introduced to the market they would go through the same assessment process led by Medsafe.
Some will be disappointed that relaxing the law on recreational use of cannabis isn’t on the agenda but that reality is that under a National Government that is unlikely to change, especially when Labour and the Greens don’t put any pressure on.