Ministry cannabis advice based on definition difficulties

The Ministry of Health advised against making it easier (and at least semi-legal) for people suffering from chronic pain to access cannabis products for relief because of claimed difficulties with legal definitions.

That sounds like a cop out to me. It’s up to Parliament to work out the law and legal definitions, and helping people shouldn’t be refused based on departmental definition difficulties.

It has also gave Labour an excuse to cop out of it’s campaign promise to make medical cannabis available.

NZH:  Medicinal cannabis: Ministry of Health advised against decriminalisation for those in chronic pain

The Ministry of Health advised against decriminalising medicinal cannabis for those in chronic pain, saying it would lead to major issues over its legal definition.

The advice is contained in a regulatory impact statement, released at the end of last year, on the Government’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

The impact statement said decriminalising for those in chronic pain would be problematic.

“Chronic pain is difficult to define, subjective, and would potentially cover a large patient group (21 per cent of adults experience chronic pain). Extending this proposal to this group would be likely to result in significant dispute around the definition of chronic pain.”

So ‘chronic pain’ would be difficult to define. Chronic pain can be bloody difficult to live with too, but the Ministry and the Government don’t seem to care about people suffering from that.

So the Amendment Bill avoided defining chronic pain. In other words they have ignored the needs of people suffering from chronic pain

As well as this the Bill proposes a flawed means of dying patients using medical cannabis – they will be able to claim a defence against using cannabis but it will remain illegal for them to grow it or obtain it and it will remain illegal for anyone to supply them with it.

Rebecca Reider, who uses medicinal cannabis, said those in chronic pain should also be able to use cannabis without being criminalised.

“It’s great that the Government recognises a compassionate approach to terminally ill patients is needed. But what about non-terminal patients? Why can’t the Government show that amnesty to everyone who has a doctor recommend cannabis?”

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell also said the provision for those with a terminal illness – defined as someone who can reasonably expect their life to end within 12 months – was too narrow.

“A one-year window simply does not go far enough to cover people with chronic pain and any terminal illness, and needs to be reconsidered by the select committee.”

Labour, and Jacinda Ardern, at least implied that would take a compassionate approach to people who suffered, but instead took a technical approach and avoided addressing it.

Health Minister David Clark has said that the bill, introduced at the end of last month, was a compassionate measure that would ensure no prosecutions while a new prescribing framework is set up.

The bill, which fulfils a 100-day promise, was softened to gain the support of New Zealand First, and will pass with the support of the Greens.

Bullshit. It’s a less than half arsed attempt to be seen to doing something they promised to do without actually doing much.

The Government has said those wishing for medicinal cannabis to be more widely available will have a chance to have their say when Swarbrick’s bill has its first reading, expected to be a conscience vote.

So they are effectively admitting that their own bill is a crock – a crooked attempt to appear as if they are keeping a promise.

So what if some people without major pain manage to use a bit of cannabis less illegally than now? People are still suffering and are putting themselves at legal risk.

Compassion my arse. Political gutlessness.



Leave a comment


  1. NOEL

     /  5th January 2018

    So it doesnt change anything?

  2. Pickled Possum

     /  5th January 2018

    “Bullshit. It’s a less than half arsed attempt to be seen to doing something they promised to do without actually doing much.”

    Yep Labour did it again … and again.
    Promising changes with accountability and transparency. Yea Right.
    If they are reneging on the big issues, imagine all the little ones
    they are cutting aka trimming down. FT

    A genius … whoz name escapes me, from this site, once said
    ” Follow the money “. So who are the money lenders to our kawantanga.

    The drug barons aka big farma.
    Or the alcohol Lords and Masters.
    Who are the biggest financial contributor’s to our ‘democracy’.
    Isn’t this how it is played out in the real world.

    Who are the ones who have the most to lose if medical cannabis is legalised,
    but can reproduce it after a very short time at a huge expense.

    Who will be put out of business if you can grow yaw own cannabis without fear of jail.
    Will Staying at home, having a puff on the joint, winding down,
    out of the booze barns harm, be the answer to domestic violence
    murder rape and obscene rock and roll.
    Will the jails commonly known as the corrections training ground for criminals,
    be overflowing with people in pain and suffering.
    who we all know can become anti-social. A sick society.

    The answer it seems is blowing in the wind generated by multiple experts!?
    Why can’t we grow our own medicine?
    Why does a pharmaceutical company know whats best to put in my body and
    legally be able to do it, at a great price.

    “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.

  3. NOEL

     /  5th January 2018

    Maybe MoH is waiting for more definative science?

    • Science and research on any drug is important, but there are also wider issues around supply and use of cannabis that make the whole think an untenable mess at the moment.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  5th January 2018

      Noel no one at home at the link you posted…
      just this gem.

      Oops! We’re sorry, but the page you are looking for cannot be found. The site administrator has been informed.

      Bout sums up The mess that is Science and Research.
      ‘Cannot be found’ will be the mantra of the chemical barons.

  4. NOEL

     /  5th January 2018

    The MoH issue appearsto be around definition.
    “Legal doctrines and decisional norms treat chronic claims pain differently than other kinds of disability or damages claims because of bias and confusion about whether chronic pain is real. This is law’s painful disparity. Now, breakthrough neuroimaging can make pain visable….”

  5. Kevin

     /  5th January 2018

    “Compassion my arse. Political gutlessness.”

    And meanwhile the US, where it was made illegal in the first place. goes full bore legalising cannabis for both recreational and medicinal use. Just think, by the time we’ve legalised cannabis the US will have moved on from cannabis and legalised MDMA for psychotherapy:

  6. PartisanZ

     /  5th January 2018

    The science is certainly ‘in’ on alcohol. 72% harmful on the “multi-criteria” graph Zedd first posted on here. Drug Harmfulness on Wiki. Cannabis comes in at 20%. I wonder how many ordinary foods would rate? Coca Cola? Cream Donuts? Lollies? Ice Cream? Cow’s Milk?

    Here’s a question the answer to which can easily be scientifically presented and analysed –

    Do you FEEL that cannabis relieves your pain?

    YES: Uptick NO: Downtick.

    • Kevin

       /  5th January 2018

      Here’s another version of the chart that breaks things down a bit more:

    • PartisanZ

       /  7th January 2018

      Assuming the eight downtickers are saying “No, I do not feel cannabis relieved my pain”, this doesn’t change the FACT that 5 in 13 people, or 38.46%, do feel cannabis relieves their pain …

      Why should they not have access to it?

      Other possibilities are that the downtickers are saying –
      a) Cannabis didn’t relieve my pain therefore it should not be allowed to ease anyone elses?
      b) I didn’t try cannabis myself but orthodox, conservative opinion says it shouldn’t be allowed to relieve anyone’s pain, even if nearly 40% of sufferers feel it does?
      c) I’m really upset that this question actually is scientific and there’s not a fucken thing I can do about it?

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  5th January 2018

    Heaven forbid that the law makes difficulties for bureaucratic enforcement. Far better just to make life unnecessarily painful for seriously ill people.

    • Gezza

       /  5th January 2018

      I disagree with this, Alan.

    • PartisanZ

       /  5th January 2018

      … so that those seriously ill people turn inevitably to the medico-pharmaceutical industry for their ‘help’ and become dependent as soon as possible … for as long as possible … and we all pay as much as possible to keep the money-go-round spinning round and round she goes …

  8. PartisanZ

     /  5th January 2018

    I wish to pay tribute here to Beverley Aldridge, particularly, and Kathleen Pattinson from Otamatea Grey Power, who are waging a Letters-to-the-Editor campaign (not unlike ‘The Right Brigade’ only their’s is) overflowing with dignity, common sense, fairness, respect, research and decency …

    From their latest letter in Northland Age Thurs 4 Jan, where these two impressive and exemplary elder women perfectly eviscerate Jess McVicar’s Sensible Sentencing Trust letter of 28 December without uttering an unkind word –

    “When it becomes common for persons of good character to willingly and knowingly conduct themselves in violation of a law, which is widely seen to be unwarranted or unjust or unfair, this should cause those who enact our laws and who are tasked with enforcing or upholding the law to give serious consideration to the repeal or amendment of that law to bring it into accord with modern social values” – British Columbia Provincial Court Judge J Challenger, as she dismissed a 144-plant grow, Dec 2nd 2014 …

    We perceive that the [Sensible Sentencing] Trust focuses on a ‘lock-em up’ mentality, and look forward to their focusing on sensible sentencing.”

    Call it what you will, aside from a few occasions by 2 or 3 governments in our entire history – the 1890 onwards Liberals and 1935 onwards Labour – the legislative benches of New ‘Zeal’ Land have been occupied by fearful, wealth-bought social cowards representing fearful, wealthy social cowards …

  9. Zedd

     /  5th January 2018

    I cant understand why NZ Govt. are constantly ‘reinventing the wheel’ on medicinal cannabis; when much of the OECD have already legally regulated its use; inc. raw herb.

    We seem to have a massive ‘hangover’ from Reefer Madness going on here..
    FEAR-mongering by those who want Status Quo at any cost ?! 😦

    ‘Why is this so ?”
    Who is really pulling their strings ??

    • PartisanZ

       /  5th January 2018

      Look to Big Pharma and the Liquor industry for answers to those questions …

      The logic of economics: It is ‘good’ for people to take processed substances that create pain and illness; while it’s ‘bad’ for people to grow and use a natural substance that relieves pain …

      Daniel Schmactenberger asks: “Is it possible to have a world –

      2. That optimizes human health and well-being, and has a for-profit health care industry that makes money managing illness?”

      “If the reality in the first column is desired, the structures in the second must be redesigned.”

  10. Zedd

     /  5th January 2018

    I read this news item in ODT (online):

    ‘Australia says it plans to become the fourth country in the world to legalise medicinal marijuana exports in a bid to score a piece of the estimated $US55 billion ($NZ77 billion) global market.’

    ‘Cannabis cultivation in Australia is still relatively small, as recreational use remains illegal. But the government hopes domestic medicinal use, legalised last year, and exports will rapidly boost production.’

    ‘Despite growing demand, only Uruguay, Canada and the Netherlands have so far legalised the export of medicinal marijuana. Israel has said it intends to do so within months.’

    ‘Fuelled by a growing acceptance of the benefits of marijuana to manage chronic pain, moderate the impact of multiple sclerosis and to soften the effects of cancer treatment, several countries and 29 states in the United States have legalised cannabis for medicinal use.’

    ** IF our Govt. are so reluctant/’scared or outcomes’ to allow the medicinal herb to be grown locally, then maybe this would be the next best option ? :/

    • PartisanZ

       /  5th January 2018

      All very well, aside from the maintenance of a completely arbitrary and pointless division between medicinal and recreational cannabis … between physical pain and emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual and existential pain … as though these all exist separately and can be measured in isolation from one another …

      How much ‘pain’ is psycho-somatic?

      In other words, even if we do legalize ‘medicinal’ cannabis, we ain’t getting any more holistic.

      But we’ll all say, “Oh well, at least its something. A step in the right direction” and we’ll play their game … take “the next best option” … go along to the doctor to prove it … pay the money … buckle down … buckle under …

  11. Zedd

     /  5th January 2018

    I found the link to the doco. that first got me interested in law reform; maybe of interest ?

    Its called ‘Billion Dollar Crop’ (1994) reason why this plant became illegal !!

    • Gezza

       /  5th January 2018

      Righto. I’ll have a look.

      • PartisanZ

         /  5th January 2018

        Watchin’ this now, thanks Zedd, after laughing uproariously to ‘Idiocracy’ …

        … could be where we’re headed?

  1. Ministry cannabis advice based on definition difficulties — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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