Poll suggests more progressive cannabis law reform wanted

People hoped that a new Government, especially one with Greens and Labour dominant, would properly address dysfunctional cannabis related laws. The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill is set to be passed this week, probably on Tuesday, but the lack of scope that has made it through the parliamentary system is underwhelming. Many will be disappointed.

A poll suggests that a majority of New Zealanders want more from Parliament – more like moves in a number of other countries, like Canada and United States who are far more progressive.

NZ Herald: Kiwis support medicinal cannabis for many conditions: Poll

A majority of New Zealanders say medicinal cannabis should be allowed to treat chronic pain, sleep disorders and other conditions, according to a new poll.

The Horizon Research poll, which was commissioned by fledgling medicinal cannabis producer Helius Therapeutics, comes just before a bill is expected to pass that will allow the use of medicinal cannabis for people who need palliative relief.

The poll, which canvassed the views of 2105 adults, showed support for medicinal cannabis to be allowed for a range of conditions.

Should be used for:

  • Chronic pain 68%
  • Cancer 58%
  • Epilepsy 52%
  • Multiple sclerosis 50%
  • Anxiety 49%
  • Arthritis 48%

I expect that those percentages would be much higher for those suffering from chronic pain, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, anxiety or arthritis.

I wonder how these approval ratings would compare for the use of morphine?

The Government bill requires regulations for a medicinal cannabis scheme to be made no later than a year after the law comes into effect. There will be further consultation on those.

Other findings from the poll:

  • 75% agreed that medicinal cannabis should be treated the same as any other medicine
  • 59% agreed that doctors and nurse practitioners should be able to issue “medicinal cannabis cards” so patients could access cannabis products from pharmacists without prescription

More on that last result from Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ:

Recently Helius has commisioned a Horizons poll outlining attitudes around Medical Cannabis.  With the final reading of the Medical Cannabis bill likely to be early this coming week, it outlines strong support across the political spectrum for significantly more reform than what was offered in the Govt Cannabis Bill.

“A key critique of the govt bill is that it shows no shape or intent outlining the nature of the ‘scheme’. Public support as polled shows strong support for a Card based access scheme similar to what is in place in many US States, and as proposed in Dr. Shane Reti’s private member’s bill” says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.

The Headline result shows that support for a card scheme is at 59%, with those opposed only at 18%

“Such results should be taken seriously by the team at the Ministry of Health who will be in charge of creating the scheme. Its a timely poll in that the next phase will be reliant on these unelected officials to balance the demands of the public, along with political expediency and the nature of managing the public health risks and benefits such a scheme may entail”.

“The preference of the public is to destigmatize Medical Cannabis, which aligns with our charities views. Essentially we would be satisfied if ‘Balanced’ Cannabis products were treated with the same caution as lighter Opioids and Benzodiazepines such as Codeine and Diazepam, which are prescribed quite freely”

“Unfortunately the wording of the question suggests following the traditional medical development model, which is where cannabis-based medicines hit a snag, its commercial suicide to do large-scale phase 3 trials for Medical Cannabis products, where the compositions etc are not able to be protected by patents”
This leads into our main issue with Medical Cannabis gaining legitimacy, the paucity of Phase 3 RCTs”

It is the hope of MCANZ, that with the successful passage of the bill, that the Minister and the Ministry waste no time in getting the regulatory consultation underway, and use such polls in their initial planning.

After initially indicating they would take urgent action over medical cannabis availability. It has taken a year to get a watered down bill over the line.

It could take up to another year to put it into effect.