Drug Foundation responds to MOH “underwhelming” evidence on medical cannabis

Ross Bell from the Drug Foundation has queried Ministry of Health advice to Peter Dunne that evidence supporting the effectiveness of medical marijuana is “underwhelming”.

Bell says he fears the information is outdated and says comprehensive research has been done evidence available and “the drug foundation has concluded that cannabis has therapeutic benefits”.

This is inresponse to a speech Dunne has given to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna – see On Peter Dunne’s speech to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

NZ Herald reports in Ministry of Health investigates medicinal cannabis use.

An investigation into the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been carried out by the Ministry of Health.

Growing numbers of jurisdictions allow cannabis for medical use and the Government has come under pressure to re-examine its use here.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who oversaw New Zealand’s innovative regulations on so-called legal highs, asked officials to look into the issue.

“My office receives regular correspondence seeking legislative change … cannabis, I am told, is apparently the panacea for a plethora of ailments, some of which, sadly, are painfully debilitating,” Mr Dunne said.

“For those suffering from such ailments I have enormous sympathy … the evidence [supplied by officials], however, has been underwhelming.”

Bell’s response:

However, NZ Drug Foundation director Ross Bell, who attended the meeting, said he feared advice provided to Mr Dunne was outdated.

“There are lots of countries that have quite well-established medical cannabis regimes, they have experience with this and they have seen some benefit.”

Mr Bell said comprehensive research had been done on the issue.

However, the drug foundation has concluded that cannabis has therapeutic benefits for conditions such as multiple sclerosis and some cancers.

“We should be looking at delivering that benefit through proper medical products … it’s not smokable cannabis.”

Mr Dunne also spoke about how “compassion, innovation and proportion” should be front of mind in the development of drug policy.

“We, as a global community, must continue to move away from rigid law and order responses, and apply a health lens when dealing with those adversely affected by drug use,” Mr Dunne told the gathering.

That message was bold, Mr Bell said, and clearly aligned New Zealand with countries moving beyond a “war on drugs” punitive approach.

However, he was concerned at the dismissal of cannabis for medical use. Mr Bell was told of the ministry’s investigation in a meeting with Mr Dunne in late January.

Sativex mouth spray is the only form of medicinal cannabis currently available, but is not funded by Pharmac and costs about $1300 a month.

Dunne is still in Vienna and unavailable for comment, but his comments have initiated comment an issue of growing importance to many people.

In particular it’s important to find out why the Ministry of Health is so luke-warm on the use of medical cannabis.

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. Sounds like I should do an OIA request on what evidence was presented to Peter Dunne………

    Reply
    • Good Job SLB.. its time Dunne was held to account for his B-S comments :

      1) medicinal value – ‘underwhelming’
      2) Synthetics ‘probably’ less harmful than natural plant
      3) medicinal advocates are really just making excuses for recreational use agenda
      4) law reform advocates are ‘just a nuisance’

      “‘Kia Kaha Bro’ !”

      Reply
  2. It just sounds like Dunne has his own agenda & its has no basis in recent evidence or reality..

    How can nearly every other ‘western country’ increasingly find that cannabis does have therapeutic value (even though it is still listed as a ‘schedule 1 narcotic’) BUT minister Dunne says it is ‘underwhelming’ in this case ??

    SO.. “Who is pulling his strings ?”
    maybe those industries/groups who can’t bear to see any change to the status quo !

    Reply
  3. Rodger Short

     /  11th March 2015

    How can M.O.H allow addictive and dangerous synthetic substitutes for party goers and deny Medical Marijuana for the sick?

    Reply

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