Cannabis progress in North & South America

 

While the New Zealand government continues to do virtually nothing about addressing cannabis law (apart from allowing limited use of medicinal cannabis extracts) the rest of the world moves on with reforms.

CNBC: Canada to legalize Cannabis from next year: report

Canadians will be free to smoke and grow their own cannabis from next July under new laws which legalize the possession of marijuana for personal consumption, according to reports from Canadian national broadcaster CBC News.

The new freedoms, which were presented to the Liberal government over the weekend by MP Bill Blair, will be announced during the week of April 10 before being written into law in time for Canada Day on July 1, 2018, according to reports from Canadian national broadcaster CBC News.

Under the new law, the Federal government in Ottawa will set a minimum purchasing age of 18 and will be in charge of licensing producers, however, provincial government will have the authority to manage distribution and pricing. It will also be entitled to raise the minimum purchase age. Canadians will also be free to grow up to four marijuana plants per household.

And (ODT): Argentina approves medicinal cannabis

Argentina has given final legislative approval to a bill legalising cannabis oil for medicinal use and permitting the federal government to grow marijuana for research and therapeutic purposes.

The measure will become law once it is signed by President Mauricio Macri, whose Cambiemos party sponsored the bill.

“Thirty percent of epileptics do not respond to traditional medicine,” medical doctor Ana María García Nicora, who heads the Medical Cannabis Argentina group, told local television after the Senate’s final vote on the measure.

“My daughter has had epilepsy for 24 years and this is an option for her,” she said.

And not just in Argentina:

Chile and Colombia have adopted similar laws and neighboring Uruguay has gone as far as to legalize smoking marijuana, seeking to wrest the business from criminals in the small South American nation.

A bill approving the use of cannabis oil is pending in Peru’s Congress.

In January, healthcare regulators in Brazil issued the country’s first license for sale of an oral spray derived from marijuana used to treat multiple sclerosis.

There has also been a lot of changes to cannabis laws in many states in the US.

Meantime here in New Zealand we continue to suffer the consequences of outdated and ineffective drug laws.

US marijuana ballots

A number of states in the US voted on marijuana issues. From the Fivethirtyeight election blog.

(This is a work in progress, I’ll update it as more results become available.)

Over the last 20 years, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized or decriminalized medical marijuana, 15 have legalized the use of cannabis oil and four (plus D.C.) have approved recreational marijuana entirely.

And today, nine more states are voting on marijuana measures — five (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) to legalize recreational marijuana, and four (Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota) to legalize medical marijuana.

Amidst all the legal changes, the country has become a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of legal pot: a Gallup poll shows support climbing from 25 percent in the mid-90s to 58 percent in 2015. Support has increased in all age brackets, and young adults now overwhelmingly support legalization (71 percent of them). “It’s our generation’s Vietnam,” said Brian Vicente, an activist and partner at the marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg, of the current push to legalize the drug.

Medical

Florida

If the ballot measure in Florida passes, it will legalize medical marijuana for specific debilitating diseases. Florida is particularly interesting because low-THC marijuana is legal in the state when consumed by a method other than smoking. The ballot measure would make it more widely available to patients.

The marijuana ballot measure in Florida passed by a landslide, legalizing medical pot for specific debilitating diseases. 76.9% in favor, and 29.1% opposed.

When Florida voters legalized medical marijuana tonight, it became the 26th state (plus D.C.) to legalize or decriminalize the drug. That means over half of all states in the U.S. have made medical marijuana legal. Now activists are looking toward California, where polls have not yet closed, to sway societal attitudes. The state could be massively important for the movement to legalize marijuana.

North Dakota

A yes vote on the ballot measure in North Dakota is a vote to legalize medical marijuana to treat specific debilitating medical conditions. A similar measure failed to reach the North Dakota ballot in 2012 after thousands of fraudulent signatures were found.

North Dakota’s ballot measure regarding marijuana has passed, legalizing medical marijuana for specific debilitating medical conditions. The Associated Press called the measure with 69 percent of precincts reporting, saying 64% voted in favor and 36% were opposed.

Arkansas

If the ballot measure in Arkansas passes, medical marijuana use for patients with qualifying conditions will become legal. A medical marijuana initiative was defeated in Arkansas in 2012. The marijuana would be taxed, with half the revenue going to vocational training and the other half divided among the general fund and other state programs.

The marijuana ballot measure in Arkansas passed, legalizing medical marijuana for specific debilitating medical conditions. 53% percent in favour,  47% opposed.

Montana

If the ballot measure in Montana passes, it will repeal the three-patient limit for medical marijuana providers, giving qualifying patients easier access to the drug. Voters have had a wild ride with marijuana legalization in Montana.

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2004, and the rules were amended in 2011 to stop advertisements for it and limit the scope of the business for providers and prescribers. Advocates tried unsuccessfully to repeal it in 2012. Then, after the 2011 bill was tied up in courts for five years, it went into effect in August.

Recreational

California

If the ballot measure in California passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated marijuana, as well as grow up to six plants and consume marijuana it privately. Medical marijuana is already legal in California.

If the measure passes, it will create two new taxes: one at $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales; the second would be a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana. Revenue from these taxes would be spent on drug research, treatment and enforcement; health and safety grants addressing marijuana; youth programs; and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal marijuana production.

The marijuana ballot measure in California passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults ages 21 and older. 55% in favor, 45% opposed.

Marijuana is now legal on the Pacific coast from Mexico to Canada.

Massachusetts

If the ballot measure in Massachusetts passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants for personal use and consume marijuana privately. Its use would be regulated similar to how the state handles alcoholic beverages. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.

If the measure passes, the state will create the Cannabis Control Commission to oversee marijuana legalization. A 3.75 percent tax would be placed on marijuana sales. Revenue would be placed in a Marijuana Regulation Fund to pay for administrative costs. Cities and towns would be allowed to add a local tax of up to 2 percent.

The marijuana ballot measure in Massachusetts passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults age 21 and older. 54% in favor, 46% opposed.

Maine

If the ballot measure in Maine passes, adults age 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and consume it privately. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.

A 10 percent tax would be placed on marijuana sales.

Colorado

While the state of Colorado has already legalized recreational marijuana and statewide ballots there don’t feature any questions about marijuana legalization, the ballot in the county of Pueblo sure does. Voters are weighing two marijuana issues there today. If issue 300 passes, voters will ban recreational marijuana sales in the city of Pueblo. If issue 200 passes, all marijuana facilities across the county will be shut down by Oct. 31, 2017.

Nevada

If the ballot measure in Nevada passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and consume it privately. Adults who do not live within 25 miles of a marijuana retail store would be allowed to grow up to six plants.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in the state.

A 15 percent tax on the drug would be spent first on enforcing the measure; remaining funds would go to K-12 education. As in many other states voting this into law, current medical marijuana facilities in Nevada would be encouraged to transition into recreational marijuana facilities.

The marijuana ballot measure in Nevada passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults ages 21 and older. 54% in favor, 46% opposed.

Another poll supports medical cannabis

A UMR poll commissioned by cannabis lobby group Start The Conversation shows strong public support for medical cannabis, in line with other polls.

“Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that patients have safe legal access to affordable medicinal cannabis and cannabis products when prescribed by a licensed doctor?”

  • Supported 76%
  • Opposed 12%
  • Undecided 12%

Only 15% of National voters were opposed.

“Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that natural cannabis and medicinal cannabis products are treated as herbal remedies when used therapeutically?”

  • Supported 61%
  • Opposed 24%
  • Undecided 15%

NZ Doctor: New UMR poll shows overwhelming support for medical cannabis law change, says NORML

The poll was conducted by UMR for Start the Conversation from 29th July to 17th August 2016.

The poll will be used by the group, which includes representatives of NORML, to decide whether to proceed with organising a cannabis law reform referendum to coincide with next year’s general election.

URM’s previous cannabis poll in March 2016 reported that 72% of respondents agreed with “the use of marijuana being allowed for medical purposes”.

Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML NZ Inc:

“John Key thinks cannabis law reform sends the wrong message, yet NORML’s message is getting through. Most New Zealanders now know cannabis is not only safer than alcohol but is also an effective remedy for a variety of conditions, and they want the law to change.”

“The message John Key needs to hear is that very few people support the status quo, including National Party voters, and he ignores them at his own peril,” said Mr Fowlie.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

  • Start The Conversation is a group representing cannabis and community activists, researchers and policy analysts throughout New Zealand, including NORML, Helen Kelly, Prof Max Abbott, Dr Geoff Noller, The Cannabis Party, Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ, It’s Medicine (Rose Renton), MildGreens and more. Start The Conversation organised a cannabis debate at the Auckland Town Hall in June, which led to this poll, and is holding its next community forum in Whangarei on Saturday 17th September.
  • Chris Fowlie is NORML’s spokesperson and a candidate for the Waitakere Licensing Trust in this year’s local body elections. He is running on a ticket of “Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol”, and says under the current law the Trust could run Cannabis Social Clubs for medicinal and/or research purposes. As with West Auckland liquor sales, any profits would be returned to the community.
  • The UMR poll is available here: Changing Marijuana laws Jul-16.pptx

NZ Herald: Another poll shows strong support for medicinal cannabis reform

The poll was commissioned by Start the Conversation, a medicinal cannabis lobby group. The group includes Helen Kelly, a former CTU president who has been campaigning for medicinal cannabis after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Kelly said the campaign group would use the poll to decide whether to try and force a Citizens Initiated Referendum on the issue during the election in 2017.

“Politicians now have the choice. Force those who are mainly unwell to collect signatures simply so the public will be believed or act quickly and with mercy and fix this mess up so people like me and many others have safe and legal guaranteed access.”

Dr Geoff Noller, an independent cannabis policy researcher who is part of Start the Conversation, said the poll showed there was little political risk involved in making a change because New Zealanders were ready for reform.

Parliament impeding social reform

An advantage of MMP and it’s moderating effect on policies can turn into a disadvantage when it comes to social reforms that have a lot of popular public support. There are several current reform issues that our Members of Parliament (our representatives) are very reluctant to deal with.

Barry Soper points out that Parliament the problem stopping social reform.

The problem with Parliament and social reform is that is that it’s wrested in the hands of too few people. And there’s a lot of reform itching to get out of the political starting blocks.

Cannabis law reform’s one area that’s unlikely to see the light of day with the current crop.

Labour’s Andrew Little appeared recently to warm to the idea in an interview with student radio but then appeared to back track when it made it on to the mainstream media platform indicating it wasn’t a priority.

There’s no way it’s going to be a starter with John Key who’s vehemently opposed and his associate health spokesman Peter Dunne’s not disposed either.

That’s perhaps unfair to Dunne who seems intent on pushing things as far as he can within the current laws (especially with medicinal cannabis) that National seem to have no intention of allowing and relaxation.

Parliament is at least listening on euthanasia, but whether this will lead to taking a serious look at reform is yet to be seen.

In the meantime people, like the desperately ill former trade union leader Helen Kelly, puffs away on black market weed while the cops rightly turn a blind eye.

And while they’re puffing their way to a less painful death, the politicians are at the moment hearing submissions on whether the desperately ill should be allowed to end it all through assisted suicide.

The death last year of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales who was suffering from brain cancer, just after a High Court denied her plea for an assisted death because it was a matter for Parliament to decide, wasn’t in vain.

An inquiry into euthanasia’s underway but don’t hold your breath that it’ll lead to change, again because the power wrests in the hands of too few.

Even though John Key supported the last Parliamentary ballot on the issue 13 years ago, which was lost by just two votes, he’s not willing to promote a Government bill on the topic to allow MPs to exercise their consciences.

Labour’s on the same side with Little instructing one of his MP’s voluntary euthanasia bill to be dropped musing it was about “choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time.”

So the two major parties are not willing to step up on considering social reform that is very important to many people.

Now it would seem the only hope for those who want the right to die with dignity, at a time of their own choosing, is ACT’s David Seymour’s bill which is sitting gathering dust, waiting to be drawn from a ballot, which of course may never happen.

The terminally ill would argue it’s not a question of when they die, it’s how they die. But at the moment those who have the power to possibly make it easier for them have other more important issues, like the plain packaging of cigarettes, to deal with.

And whether airports have to advertise lost property in newspapers or not. That was a National MP’s bill drawn from the Members’ ballot while Seymour’s somewhat more important Dying With Dignity bill gets nowhere.

Social reform can be very contentious but there needs to be a better way of a dealing with important social issues without them being swept under the parliamentary carpet by gutless, self interested politicians.

It doesn’t mean social reforms will happen, that should depend on proper inquiry and majority public approval, but they should at least be given a decent chance.

Clear majority supports cannabis change

A poll commissioned by the NZ Drug Foundation on cannabis shows a clear majority supporting growing and using cannabis for medical purposes, including a majority of supporters of all of National, Labour, Greens and NZ First.

Growing or using for a medical reason like pain relief:

  • Keep illegal 16%
  • Decriminalise 16%
  • Make legal 63%

There was slightly more support fro ‘make legal’ – 66% – if a terminal illness was involved.

Results on possession for personal use are more mixed but still with a clear majority of 64% wanting change.

Possession of a small amount for personal use:

 

  • Keep illegal 34%
  • Decriminalise 31%
  • Make legal 33%

Full results:

150816cannabisonline

The poll of 1029 respondents ran from July 18 to August 2 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

However chances of change look non-existent under a National Government, even though a majority of National voters support change.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has said that the Government is clear on its position – that leaf cannabis would remain illegal.

This is political speak for ‘National refuse to go there’.

And don’t expect much from Labour either. Last week Andrew Little told a student radio station that Labour could hold a referendum but later backed off that position.

Newshub: Where does Labour stand on decriminalising cannabis?

In the interview with Salient FM on Tuesday he was asked to clarify his stance.

Asked “so you will possibly have a referendum?” he replied: “Yeah, we want to make sure that there’s a good information campaign about it and have a referendum about it and let people decide.”

When asked how much of a priority it was, Mr Little said it wouldn’t be in his first 100 days.

“[It] may not even be in the first term but it would be something I’d be happy to see at some point in our term of government.”

But today he’s backpedalling.

“I’ve been very clear, it’s not a priority, I’ve got no commitment to make about it; it’s not a priority,” he told Newshub.

Would Greens force the issue with Labour? How hard Greens pushed Labour for change on cannabis law would show how serious they are. It is Green policy but tends to be ‘not a priority’ with them as well.

‘Not a priority’ is political speak for ‘we want to look like we support it but don’t want to actually do anything about it’.

 

Medicinal cannabis available in NSW

Medical cannabis products can bow be prescribed by doctors in New South Wales.

ODT:  Medicinal cannabis allowed in NSW

Business Insider Australia has more detail in Doctors in NSW can prescribe cannabis from today:

Seriously ill people can be prescribed cannabis-based medicines in New South Wales under changes to the law that come into effect today.

The medicines were only available under clinical trials up until now, but NSW premier Mike Baird says doctors can now consider them for patients who have exhausted existing treatment options.

“This change increases the options available for doctors as it means a broader range of cannabis-based medicines can be prescribed – while we continue our evidence-based research looking further into the role medicinal cannabis can play,” Baird said.

Applications from prescribing doctors will be assessed by the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration, and by a committee of medical experts on behalf of NSW Health before they can be used.

Applications from prescribing doctors will be assessed by the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration, and by a committee of medical experts on behalf of NSW Health before they can be used.

More information on what the NSW Government is doing with Cannabis and Cannabis Products for Therapeutic Purposes


The NSW Government is committed to developing a better understanding of the potential for cannabis and/or cannabis products to alleviate symptoms or potentially treat a range of debilitating or terminal illnesses.

Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation

To help further our understanding of cannabis and cannabis-derived substances for therapeutic purposes, the NSW Government has announced the establishment of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.

Clinical trials of cannabis products

The NSW Government is investing $9 million over the next five years on clinical trials of cannabis products. The trials will explore the use of cannabis and/or cannabis products in providing relief for patients suffering from severe paediatric epilepsy, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and for symptom relief for those with terminal illness.

Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme

The Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme is separate to the terminal illness clinical trial.

The Scheme provides guidelines for NSW police officers to assist them in determining appropriate circumstances in which to use their discretion not to charge adults with terminal illness who use cannabis and/or carers who assist them.

Guidance for medical practitioners has also been developed to assist when patients are seeking medical certification to access the Scheme.

See Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme for more information.

Study: medical cannabis reduces health costs

Research now supports the assumption that in places that allow the use of medicinal cannabis the rates of painkiller abuse and overdoses “fell sharply”. This reduces costs.

“The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes.”

Washington Post: One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana

There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses.

The study found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.

The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.

But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

pot_prescriptions4

The study ran a similar analysis on drug categories that pot typically is not recommended for — blood thinners, anti-viral drugs and antibiotics. And on those drugs, they found no changes in prescribing patterns after the passage of marijuana laws.

“This provides strong evidence that the observed shifts in prescribing patterns were in fact due to the passage of the medical marijuana laws,” they write.

“The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes.”

But pharmaceutical companies have been strongly opposing liberalisation of cannabis laws.

These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform,funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization.

Pharmaceutical companies have also lobbied federal agencies directly to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws.

Cannabis is easy to grow and products are difficult to patent so companies cannot protect their markets except by cutting competition out of the equation through laws.

In what may be the most concerning finding for the pharmaceutical industry, the Bradfords took their analysis a step further by estimating the cost savings to Medicare from the decreased prescribing.

They found that about $165 million was saved in the 17 medical marijuana states in 2013. In a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the estimated annual Medicare prescription savings would be nearly half a billion dollars if all 50 states were to implement similar programs.

Presumably states in the US would also benefit from sales taxes and reduced policing costs.

The New Zealand Treasury has estimated (Legal cannabis could collect $150 million a year but Bill English isn’t pursuing it):

Collecting an extra $150 million a year in tax revenue at a time when the health, education and housing sectors are all screaming out for money – sounds like a no-brainer, right?

The catch? Legalising cannabis.

This week Nelson lawyer Sue Grey revealed through an Official Information Act request some informal notes from Treasury, which calculated that legalisation would not only generate money,  but also save $400m a year on enforcement of drug prohibition.

So allowing the legal use of medical products derived from cannabis would have significant health benefits and significant cost benefits.

But Bill English and National continue to oppose any liberalisation of cannabis laws.

So people suffer more than they should, or they openly flout the law:

Helen Kelly: ‘My back is broken and I only have months to live but I’m pain free’

Tumours have broken Helen Kelly’s back and she only has months to live but illegally taking cannabis means she’s pain free.

The former Council of Trade Unions president was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in February last year and was initially given about seven weeks to live.

“I am going to die very soon, there’s no cure, it’s grown like crazy.”

“Cannabis is the only thing that gives me relief, it lets me sleep all night.”

“I’m not a hippy but I’m amazed how it works…people use it on their arthritis with incredible results.”

“It’s wonderful – but illegal.”

The Government could quite easily make a real difference to many people’s lives, people who are suffering.

Treasury has even provided Bill English with a cost benefit analysis. The US study backs this – it “found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented”.

English and National refusing to consider any law change is hard to comprehend.

Treasury: alcohol and tobacco more harm than cannabis

A Treasury document obtained after an OIA request be a Nelson lawyer gives estimated costs of policing cannabis and potential tax revenue, and says that “the harm caused by alcohol and tobacco was much worse than what’s caused by drugs like cannabis”.

NZ Herald: Cannabis tax could be $150m

An internal Treasury document on New Zealand’s drug policy shows the Government could be earning $150 million from taxing cannabis and saving taxpayers $400 million through reduced policing costs.

The brainstorming notes, from 2013, have been publicly released after an Official Information Act request from Nelson lawyer Sue Grey to Finance Minister Bill English.

Grey said the notes confirmed what was well-known in other sectors – that the harm caused by alcohol and tobacco was much worse than what’s caused by drugs like cannabis.

Relative harm of alcohol and tobacco compared to cannabis is fairly well known.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell agreed, saying the reason there’s been no action is because politicians are too scared to talk about the “taboo” subject of drugs.

He said we should be willing to look at alternatives for New Zealand and admit, as the Treasury notes do, that the current system isn’t working.

Bell said the notes stated prohibition wasn’t working and cannabis was not a gateway drug.

He said while politicians did not like talking about drug policy, they were now misreading the public mood and people were ready to have this discussion.

I don’t think the National party and it’s leaders care about the public mood on cannabis. They simply don’t want to address the obvious issues and public sentiment.

English said the brainstorm notes were merely a discussion and were not official Treasury opinion.

That’s disappointing but predictable fobbing off by English. The document wasn’t anyone’s opinion, it was stating well known facts, and estimated costs and potential revenue.

It was advice that English and National don’t want to hear because they don’t want to do anything about the large cannabis problem.

Both medical cannabis products and recreational use are issues with growing profiles. Ignoring public opinion may be costly for National – as a third term Government they are facing rising dissatisfaction with a failure to take seriously issues of public significance.

It’s quite possible that next election cannabis could be the toke that breaks the Government’s back.

Cannabis as a gateway drug

From Start the Conversation (Facebook):


It is cannabis prohibition which forces users to associate with the illicit drug black market, rather than the use of cannabis itself, that often serves as a doorway to the world of hard drugs.

The more users become integrated in an environment where, apart from cannabis, hard drugs can also be obtained, the greater the chances they will experiment with harder drugs.‪#‎StartTheConversation‬

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‘Start the conversation’ cranking up

‘Start the conversation’ got under way on Facebook recently:

In 2007 NZ Drug Foundation called for a national conversation about cannabis. For a decade it never took place. We are having it now!

Cannabis prohibition in New Zealand has been controversial for decades. In 2007 The New Zealand Drug Foundation called for national conversation about cannabis. For nearly ten years, this conversation has not taken place.

We as a nation must have this conversation. The debate in this country has always been very polarized, and it can get pretty extreme on both sides. Some would have you believe that cannabis is an evil drug, destroying the minds of our society’s youth. Others contend that it’s a miracle plant, sent down from the heavens to solve all of earth’s problems.

It’s hard to sort through all the rhetoric and make an informed decision, and government after government has refused to make this conversation a priority.

But we don’t need to wait. Let’s have this conversation right now, on the internet for all to see. Open and transparent.

Join the conversation and tell us what you think about cannabis, and New Zealand’s laws against it.

You can join the conversation here.

And the conversation will be cranking up at the Auckland Town Hall on Monday night:

START THE CONVERSATION

A TOWN HALL ASSEMBLY ON THE IMPACT CANNABIS LAW HAS ON NEW ZEALANDERS

 AUCKLAND TOWN HALL

MONDAY 27TH JUNE, 2016 7-9PM (or it could be 6.30 pm)

This is a public panel discussion featuring:

Professor Max Abbott: CNZM, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dean and Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, AUT; Past President and Senior Consultant, World Federation for Mental Health

Helen Kelly: Former President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and current medical cannabis campaigner.

Dr Warren Young: CNZM, Former Deputy President of the New Zealand Law Commission

Dr Chris Wilkins: Senior Researcher and Leader of the Illegal Drug Research team, SHORE Whariki Massey University.

Dr Huhana Hickey: Research fellow in Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research at AUT University

Tony Bouchier: President of the Criminal Bar Association.

Community Can Website

More details and discussion at Public Address: Starting the cannabis conversation: The “other” law reform