Russell Brown’s submission on medicinal cannabis bill

I am a journalist and one of my specialist areas is drug policy. In the course of my work, I have interviewed users, suppliers, doctors, police officers, researchers, activists and government ministers. But the story I want to tell you is a personal one.

My old friend died this year. He had survived three years since he was diagnosed with a kind of brain tumour called glioma multiforme – far longer than he was supposed to – but complications associated with his illness were eventually too much for his system and his health deteriorated rapidly in the weeks before his death.

Shortly before he was moved to a hospice, I had a conversation with his wife, another old friend, about medical cannabis. My friend had, with the approval of his oncologist, used a cannabis oil preparation (acquired as a gift) for some time while he battled his disease: a couple of drops rubbed into his gums before bed each night.

I can’t tell you that that prolonged his life. But there is a body of pre-clinical evidence that a balanced preparation of THC and CBD can help shrink tumours in glioma cases. His tumours shrank to the point where he was at one point declared cancer-free.

Our concern now was not with the cancer itself, but with his comfort and well-being through his final days. I agreed to try and source a product for him and, through the kindness of strangers, was able to source a good-quality medical oil.


My dear friend died in hospice, after a handful of deeply precious days in which he and his loved ones were able to say their goodbyes. It is my belief that the cannabis product helped him have those precious days, awake and aware. I would unhesitatingly break the law again to give him those days. And I believe it is wrong that I – or anyone else – should have to do that.


I ask you to consider taking a realistic and compassionate view and do the following:

• Use the regulations that will be attached to this bill to make the gesture towards the terminally ill work in the real world by allowing them to nominate an approved supplier, so they and their loved ones can safely access a safe product.

• Recognise that the terminally ill are not the only New Zealanders to derive benefit from cannabis products and allow others with chronic conditions to register to use these products.

• Provide specific protection for hospitals and hospices from prosecution under Section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

• Allow a local industry to develop by allowing export of locally-produced products, and by not excluding those with existing convictions from participating in the industry.

• Allow self-growing under regulation.

• Enable research into growing, and clinical trials. The trend in the developing global industry is overwhelmingly towards breeding plants with desired attributes – an area in which New Zealand has a strong track record of IP development.

Brown comments:

I seem not to be the only one who sat in on these hearings and came away with the impression that the bill’s statutory defence may well be extended to those with chronic illnesses. If that happens, it’s huge. It’s worth bearing witness.

I hope that’s not just wishful thinking.

Leave a comment


  1. Griff

     /  2nd May 2018

    Cannabis is safer the other legal recreational drugs.
    There is no valid reason to not legalize it and many reasons why halting the futile war on drugs will result in less harm to society and drug users.

    Prohibition laws—which criminalise the production, supply, possession, and use of some drugs for non-medical purposes—cost at least $100bn annually but have failed to curb either supply or demand, reduce addiction, or minimise harm. The war on drugs has failed and The BMJ says it’s time for doctors “to lead calls for pragmatic reform informed by science and ethics.”

    • Zedd

       /  2nd May 2018

      whilst I tautoko your words..
      this post is about MED-use bill.. just saying 🙂

      There is a ‘Reeferendum’ promised (on/before 2020) to deal with the other uses

      • Griff

         /  2nd May 2018

        I don’t pull punches .
        Cannabis should be legal ….There is no justification for alcohol use being legal and cannabis use a crime.
        The medical use bill as it stands is a smegging joke
        Only for terminal illness in the last year.
        That is harsher than they treat morphine FFS .
        Accepting this piece of crap law is just stalling the issue for as long as the conservative smeg wits can hold on to their piss soaked power .

        Fears that cannabis causes irreparable harm to teenager’s brains have been stoked by trials which “overstated” the effects on intelligence and other functions, according to a review which found little ill-effect after three days abstinence.

        Studies have shown it is 114 times less harmful than alcohol, but marijuana’s impact on adolescents’ brain development and mental health is a major concern for policy makers in debates over legalisation.

        This is a key time developmental period and studies have found negative impacts on attention, learning, memory and organisation in heavy or frequent cannabis users.

        But it now appears that these studies may have just been identifying impairment caused by residual effects of the drug or withdrawal symptoms.

        A meta-analysis by University of Pennsylvania researchers looked at 69 studies, which all tested the impact of marijuana smoking in adolescents and young adults, and found little to no long-term harm.
        Quoted study

        Laws should be based on evidence not prejudice.
        There is overwhelming evidence including the NZ drug harm index that prohibition causes more harm than making drugs legal.

        • PartisanZ

           /  2nd May 2018

          “Laws should be based on evidence not prejudice.”

          Yay! TOP gets their wealth or asset tax …

        • Zedd

           /  3rd May 2018

          I agree 🙂

  2. Traveller

     /  2nd May 2018

    The law is an ass

    • Gezza

       /  2nd May 2018

      American “ass”, or the donkey? o_O

      (If the former I have to downtick for swearing) 😐

      • Griff

         /  2nd May 2018

        the law is an ass
        ​ the legal system or a particular law is wrong or not good enough, and should be changed:

        “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”
        Oliver Twist – Wikiquote

  3. Zedd

     /  2nd May 2018

    Well said Russell.. it is good to see more ‘high profile’ people speaking out on this issue !!

  4. PartisanZ

     /  2nd May 2018

    Yes, well said and, apparently, like most of us in a very large compassionate MC community, Russell wants this Amendment Bill upgraded to cover chronic conditions (pain, illness and disability) and to include regulated ‘home grow’ and the development of an MC industry …

    In other words, he wants the Green Party’s Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis & Other Matters) Amendment Bill amalgamated with Labour’s ‘Claytons Legislation’ and passed more-or-less completely …

    This begs the question: Why didn’t Labour support the Green’s Bill at its First Reading?

    In a coalition affirming move – something the three coalition parties seem oblivious to – the two Bills could surely have been considered together … Or Labour could have done the decent (vote winning) thing and subverted their Bill to Chloe’s much better one …

    The Select Committee could be considering WHAT TO REMOVE from the Bill rather than all the many things that need to be added to make it anything beyond a virtual waste of time …

    I find it infuriating!

    • Zedd

       /  2nd May 2018

      ‘This begs the question: Why didn’t Labour support the Green’s Bill at its First Reading?’

      The majority of Labour (all but 8) did vote to support it, BUT NZF voted NO in a block with Natl.. (gave the NO vote the numbers to stop it). They reportedly thought Chloe/JAGs bill ‘just went too far, with allowing home grown’ but this is what many submitters are saying is the better option, rather than Big Pharma or even black-market supply (for terminally ill)
      CRAZY MAN !

      I also think that there is still fear-mongering & a misinformed perception, that if they allow broader med-use (as in Canada, USA, Aust, much of EU etc.) it will somehow ‘open the door to full legalisation’.. prior to the reeferendum in 2020 & we CAN’T have that.. can we ???
      It will spell the ‘end of the world as we know it’ NOT.. 😦 😦

      • Zedd

         /  2nd May 2018

        I still say that if this is really about ‘Harm reduction’ (as they say) why not also BAN: Alcohol, Tobacco, Fast foods, TV, Cola drinks, the internet, etc. & wrap us all up in cotton wool.

        What happened to ‘Freedom of choice’ & regulation.. they are demanding ‘Our way of the highway’ eff. Zero-tolerance/PROHIBITION. It failed in the ‘roaring 20s’ with booze in USA, but they somehow think (or pretend) it is working here in NZ, with cannabis.. “B-S” sez I&I

        • Zedd

           /  2nd May 2018

          oops typo : they are demanding ‘Our way OR the highway’ (to Jail ?) eff. Zero-tolerance


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