Outspoken and Dunne on medical cannabis

RNZ:  Outspoken – Medicinal Cannabis

The government’s medicinal cannabis policy released in December drew howls of protest from critics who argued it didn’t go far enough.

The policy would make medical cannabis more available for people with terminal illnesses, and protect them from prosecution for possession of illicit marijuana. But Health Minister David Clark insisted the policy was cause for celebration.

“It is real progress, it is a big step forward.”

It was widely seen as timid and barely any change. Even Clark said that for real change people needed to look at a Member’s Bill rather than his.

The bill proposes

  • Introduce a medicinal cannabis scheme to enable access to quality products
  • Introduce a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis
  • Remove cannabidiol from the schedule of controlled drugs

The most contentious aspects are that while terminally ill people will have a defence for using cannabis it is illegal for them to grow it or for anyone to supply it, and it excludes a defence for people suffering from chronic pain but not deemed to be at imminent risk of dying.

The executive director of the Drug Foundation Ross Bell said the Drug Foundation has always maintained you need a two-stage medicinal cannabis market.

“One, ultimately you need a gold standard medical cannabis system just as we have with other medicines where things go through trials. Once that has happened doctors know what to prescribe and at what dosage and how it interacts with other medicines,” he said.

“The second track is a compassionate scheme where you do allow people to grow, or have it grown for them, without fear of arrest – and again I don’t think the government’s proposal quite does that either.”

Bell speaks softly – Clark’s bill doesn’t come anywhere near that second track.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has a separate members bill that would also amend the Misuse of Drugs Act, due to come before Parliament.

“Where we would like to see the government’s bill go further would be on that issue of chronic pain … those who, for example, have cancer but it’s not terminal.

“There has been a thorough meta-analysis of all the research to date which has shown that [for] nausea and vomiting symptoms, there is a lot of evidence around how medicinal cannabis and CBD oil can help … and also with the likes of Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.”

Clark says he will support this bill and has said that it offers people something significant the his bill doesn’t.

RNZ:  Medicinal cannabis bill will send ‘clear signal’ to police

Health Minister David Clark said while the law did not allow people to grow cannabis, police were using a “huge amount of discretion” and the government’s legislation sent a strong message that was the right thing to do.

“The police are using discretion currently for personal use, and I expect this will send a clear signal that for the terminally ill it would be completely pointless to be prosecuting them for using it.”

People wanted legal changes, not ‘clear signals’ to the police to ignore law that is not fit for purpose.

Pearl Schomburg has been using cannabis to manage her pain for the past two years. She suffers from inflammatory pain, PTSD and nausea, but access to her chosen medicine won’t be any easier under the planned law change.

“There’s nothing in it for me today except hope that this is just the beginning.

“There’s a lot of disappointed people in the community, some of them are quite angry as well because they feel like they’ve been quite let down by Jacinda [Ardern].

Mr Clark said he would support Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s bill allowing people to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes at its first reading so it can go to a select committee and be tested, reviewed and receive submissions from medical experts.

But the government was not adopting the bill.

Peter Dunne is very critical of the Government approach.

NZH: Peter Dunne says the Govt’s medicinal cannabis bill will bring no immediate relief to patients

The former minister responsible for drug law reform is calling the Government’s bill on medicinal cannabis “half baked” and “a pretty sad gimmick” that fails to give sick people immediate access to good products.

Peter Dunne, who used to be associate health minister, said the bill was underwhelming and the product of a naive 100-day pledge.

If it wasn’t naive it was deliberate voter duping.

“It’s a pretty sad gimmick. It doesn’t really change anything. It doesn’t improve immediate access to people and it doesn’t do anything about the cost of medication.

“They allowed an impression to be created, whether they intended to or not, that they could solve the problem with the wave of a wand. A lot of people who were suffering believed that, and they feel pretty let down.”

From what I’ve seen the Government bill has disappointed many people.

He said the bill was “half-baked”, adding that it would have been more honest to say that the work simply needed longer than the 100-day timeline.

It’s less than half baked – Labour left out key ingredients as well.

“When they actually got to grips with the subject and found that wasn’t really possible (to fix in 100 days). So they said, ‘What can we do? I know. We will put in this stuff about compassionate use.’

People are not being prosecuted for compassionate use now.”

So the bill changes very little immediately apart from sending police ‘a clear signal’.

Helen Kelly openly flaunted the law when suffering from cancer, and Labour promised to honour her memory. Instead they have passed the parcel to the Greens while pretending to do something themselves.

This has been weak leadership from Jacinda Ardern.

Health Minister David Clark has said New Zealand will monitor the situation in Australia, where medicinal cannabis was made legal in 2016 and companies are preparing to deliver domestically made products within a few months.

Clark’s inexperience is showing. ‘Monitor’ is like ‘have an inquiry’ or ‘form  committee’ – avoiding responsibility. Worse, Labour are not delivering on what they promoted as an urgent (100 day) solution.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a law change last week to allow Australian companies to export medicinal cannabis products, saying: “We would like to be, potentially, the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier.”

Dunne said rather than monitoring Australia, New Zealand should be “piggy-backing” so quality products would be available to New Zealand patients at the same time as they are to Australians.

“Working with the Australians is likely to produce the quickest and best benefit. We have a free trade agreement. The medical safety standards in Australia and New Zealand are pretty much identical. So anything that would get the tick there should get the tick here.”

Maybe once the Australians are actually producing products Clark will escalate from ‘monitor’ to ‘form a committee of experts’.

The Government’ bill was softened to gain the support of New Zealand First, and should pass with the support of the Greens.

It does not go as far as Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s member’s bill, which would allow anyone with a qualifying medical condition to grow, possess or use the cannabis plant or cannabis products for therapeutic purposes, provided they have the support of a registered medical practitioner.

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.​


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  1. Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th January 2018

      Oh excellent. She’ll be able to intercede directly with God to get cannabis made legal in NZ. Why in God’s name do Catholics still put up with this nonsense. And what a sleazy slant from The Herald linking this “saint” bullshit to the cannabis debate.

  2. robertguyton

     /  11th January 2018

    I remember when National moved swiftly to make cannabis available to sufferers of pain…hang on!

    • I remember National resisting making any changes to cannabis law, and was strongly critical of that, but that’s now history.

      What we have now is a gutless Labour pretending to honour a promise while deferring to a Green MP Member’s bill. At least National didn’t promise anything and not deliver.

      • robertguyton

         /  11th January 2018

        Deferring to the Green Member’s bill sounds…pretty clever to me; conservative communities will support Labour’s stance, vote for them next election, yet the Green’s initiative will succeed, satisfying the less conservative, who will likewise, vote for a Labour/Green Government next election. Smart stuff.

        • Gezza

           /  11th January 2018

          Labour’s Bill is therefore a complete bloody waste of time money and resources. The Courts will curse them for putting them in the position of having to find in favour of the defendant any time the police do decide to take someone to Court for supply. And the police will curse Labour for putting them in the position where they have to waste time money & resources working out whether they should be prosecuting someone or not, depending on the circumstances of whoever it is they’ve bagged for it – some gang using standover tactics & involved in other associated crimes, or some individual with genuine concern for the afflicted as their primary motivator.

          Labour & the Greens are getting slammed for promoting this bullshit Bill & they deserve to be.

      • robertguyton

         /  11th January 2018

        Pete – could you link to your posts criticising National at the time?

        • Gezza

           /  11th January 2018

          National is no better for their complete hypocrisy on this issue, but they’re not the government now & they’re no worse than Labour for barking at every passing dog in opposition & opposing everything on principle. It’s irrelevant to the issue of Labour basically hoodwinking voters.

          • robertguyton

             /  11th January 2018

            Good point Gezza and it’s worth noting that during National’s recent terms in Government, commenters who supported them never made reference to the previous (Labour) Government.

            • Gezza

               /  11th January 2018

              Oh, no they did Robert, all the time. 😡 How on earth did you get the idea they didn’t ? 😳

        • Is this a follow up to demands on The Standard to prove comprehensive all party criticism? Lame. Have you not learnt about site searching or Google yet?

          “It will require either a change of Government or a change of generation in the National caucus to get any cannabis law changes.” – April 2017

          “Addiction is not really a ‘personal choice’. It is more of a medical condition, and punitive penalties are unlikely to address that effectively.

          Using beneficiaries and drug addicts to try and attract a few votes seems a silly and cynical approach, but that’s what National has been tending to do more of as they try to hold onto power.

          This is disappointing. National are looking increasingly undeserving of being returned to power.” – September 2017

          “But the National led government has been strongly against relaxing laws on cannabis.”

          “We will forever be reacting to the adverse effects of illegal drug use unless we take a different approach to cannabis.” – July 2017

          “But, while some younger National MPs support drug law reform, the current Government under Bill English is digging it’s toes in, and keeping it’s head in the sand.” –

          “So the prospects of drug law reform in New Zealand don’t look good. Even if National lose the election Labour have said “it is not a priority” meaning they don’t want to propose anything that could be controversial or contentious (that approach has failed them so far).” – July 2017

          “However chances of change look non-existent under a National Government, even though a majority of National voters support change.” – August 2016

          “Dunne cops much of the flak for Government unwillingness to address medical cannabis or the wider issue of recreational use.

          But there’s nothing Dunne can do about changing laws on this if National won’t allow it, and they are the ones with the most votes by far, and the most reluctance to do anything. I don’t think we will get cannabis law reform, nor any meaningful attempt to consider any change to our stance on the drug, while National are in government.

          It seems that National doesn’t want to give a medical inch for fear of a recreational mile. But that’s out of touch with the world that is quite rapidly changing it’s attitude to cannabis and criminality.” – February 2016

          Etc etc.

          Robert, you really seem ignorant of what I post on, and often jump to stupid (or deliberately misrepresentative) conclusions.

          • robertguyton

             /  11th January 2018

            Pete – I should have a comprehensive understanding of everything you’ve ever posted before asking you a question?
            High expectations, Mr George.
            “Pete – could you link to your posts criticising National at the time?”
            You could have replied, “I could but I won’t”

            • You could have easily searched. Asking “could you link to your posts criticising National at the time” suggested ignorance, given that it appears to be a diversion from the topic

              I have campaigned on cannabis law reform and have been critical of the National government on it’s inaction for the last seven years. I have met and communicated with a number of people over that time on it, including Dunne and Kevin Hague, and also recreational and medical cannabis campaigners.

              What does National have to do with it now?

  3. Griff

     /  11th January 2018

    Cannabis is safer than paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen and less addictive than caffeine.
    Lose the reefer madness bullpoop.
    The law is an ass.

    • Corky

       /  11th January 2018

      ”Cannabis is safer than paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen” .True.

      ”And less addictive than caffeine.” False from my experience. At best it would be equally addictive. Caffeine doesn’t bring latent mental instability to the fore as cannabis can.

      • Griff

         /  11th January 2018

        Paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen and coffee all sold in your local dairy no restrictions at all.
        Cannabis illegal 3 months imprisonment and/or $500 fine for possession.

        Correlation is not causation.
        Some research suggests cannabis can hasten the onset of Psychosis in a small number of cases.
        The incidence of Psychosis does not correlate with the number of cannabis users in a population or number of users over time..

        • Corky

           /  11th January 2018

          ”Paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen and coffee all sold in your local dairy no restrictions at all.Cannabis illegal 3 months imprisonment and/or $500 fine for possession.”

          Look, if I had my way all drugs would be legal.

          ”Correlation is not causation.” True, but its a great start for tentative observations.

          Oh, the electrician has arrived. Will finish post later

  4. Zedd

     /  11th January 2018

    NZ pollies still trying to reinvent the wheel on this.. nearly all other OECD countries have moved forward on medicinal use & now on personal use… yet we are still trying to decide if ‘Reefer Madness’ is anything like reality (NOT) ! :/

    Mother Aubert; ‘Patron Saint of Pot’ RIP 🙂

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  11th January 2018

    Sending the police a clear signal from politicians is nothing more nor less than corruption of the law and its administration. Lawmakers instruct the courts, not the police and when the instructions to the courts are wrong the public are vulnerable to persecution without recourse. Disgusting behaviour.

  6. Patu

     /  12th January 2018

    FFS! If I wanted to ‘blaze up’, just for fun, I could walk 50m up the road RIGHT NOW, and get what I ‘needed’ for $20. Which is less than the price of a packet of smokes! But I won’t, because I don’t need it. But others do. The law is an ASS!

    • Griff

       /  12th January 2018

      In an unregulated market the tinny houses are run by criminal enterprises called gangs mostly in suburban areas. Gangs enforce their monopoly with stand over tactics ,actual violence,to on occasion murder.
      What do the neighborhood kids see?
      Gangs making money hand over fist with all the latest toys, flash cars and fast woman. Local Hero’s.
      The gangs use youth for fronts.
      Ten to seventeen year olds who will go to family court and a family group conference not court then time at her majesty’s pleasure.
      Case in point twelve year old who rode around the road outside a south Auckland primary school. If you drove past and stop he would ride and and either tell you the identification of the tinny house or ask for cash in exchange for a palmed tinny.
      How is that kid going to grow up ?

      Prohibition gives gangs a recruitment network and a work force they can use to keep their hands clean. It also infects neighbor hoods with criminal enterprise. As with legal alcohol outlets the lower decile neighborhoods have a disproportion of outlets . No ID check no age restrictions its 20 cash for anyone including kids.

      A good way for society to punch itself in the head.

      Legalize, tax and regulate .


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