Confusion over medical cannabis bill

It turns out that National’s pulling of their support for the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was a prelude to them announcing an alternative bill that is subject to being drawn from the members’ ballot – National puts forward medicinal cannabis regime.

Then the Health Committee published its report on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill – Final report (Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill) [PDF 595k]

Recommendation

The Health Committee has examined the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill. We have been unable to reach agreement and therefore cannot recommend that the bill proceed.

That sparked a lot of angst until it was sort of explained that the bill would still proceed, unchanged and without a recommendation of the committee. Or something like that.

Perhaps this will have been properly clarified by the morning.

In the meantime here’s a speech in parliament by the youngest MP, who also happens to sound more sensible than the rest on how to deal with cannabis law.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green): It’s a pleasure to rise to take the call after that speech from the Leader of the Opposition with regards to positive solutions, particularly on the topic of cannabis. I just want to lay it out in this general debate speech here how we got here and what issues we’re actually talking about when we speak to the issue of cannabis.

I want to demarcate for the public out there that may be listening the two separate issues of recreational and medicinal cannabis. I think this is really important because so often they end up conflated in the public discussion.

The issue of recreational cannabis is one that will be dealt with in the context of our commitment negotiated in the confidence and supply agreement between the Green Party and the Labour Party, with a referendum on adult recreational use on or by 2020 that I’m very proud to be working with the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, on. He’s demonstrated his incredible responsiveness on a number of proposals that we’ve put forward with regard to its design, including the likes of citizens juries.

So today the predominant focus of this call that I’m taking will be on medicinal cannabis. Alleviating the pain and suffering of patients and their whānau denied access to legal medicinal cannabis requires urgent, open, and collaborative cross-party action. That’s because patients deserve a guarantee of access—affordable, consistent supply. We’re talking here about people’s lives, not just facts and figure on statistical sheets.

I want to read some of the thousands—literally thousands—of stories that have come through my office in the past few months. One is from Jasmine:

“My name is Jasmine. I am 28 years old and I am my father’s caregiver. My dad sustained a neurotoxic brain injury via his occupation in 2001 and has a degenerative spinal condition. He suffers from a range of medical problems, including severe mental illness, nerve damage, and inability to walk or stand unaided for more than a few minutes. He spends most of his life confined to a bed and will soon require a wheelchair.

“Cannabis allows my father many benefits that cannot be obtained with the use of any other single drug, without the risk of heavy addiction or chemical interactions with his other medications.

“This man is a pensioner who contributed 30 years of his life to the workforce, raised two children, was permanently injured and made to fight for rightful compensation, had his wife taken by cancer, and, due to current legislation, is a criminal who will face two years minimum prison sentence should the police ever wish to search our property. My father wants nothing more from what life he has left than peace and quiet and to be left alone.”

Yesterday the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s annual poll was released, demonstrating that in the last 12 months there’s been a near – 10 percentage point increase in public support—87 percent of New Zealanders support growing and/or using cannabis for any medical reasons such as to alleviate pain.

Look, I know that correlation does not imply causation, but the most deeply related event that has occurred in the last year is absolutely the public debate that occurred around my medicinal cannabis member’s bill in January, which attracted support from diverse quarters such as past Prime Minister Helen Clark and, of course, the likes of Grey Power.

This member’s bill was, however, voted down. On the night, I said that we had not won the battle but that we were winning the war—the war that is so crucial for patients, for people who are suffering under a demonstrably unfit for purpose status quo.

The Government’s more restrictive bill did, however, pass with unanimous support. Today the Health Committee has reported it back to the House, and it does not, unfortunately, recommend the changes asked for by submitters.

The Greens will continue to push for those changes, for the patient voice to be central, which brings me to the National Party member’s bill introduced today. I am stoked that they have come around to the idea of a comprehensive, common-sense medicinal cannabis framework. But, to be honest, I’m still quite perplexed that they voted down the similar scope that was before the House six months ago.

All the while, patients have been in pain and suffering. We do, however, wholeheartedly invite the seeming change in tune for a progressive medicinal cannabis scheme, and we look forward to continuing to work across the House collaboratively for the betterment of patients.

 

Medical cannabis submissions – livestreaming

Join us for a livestream of oral submitters on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

SUBMITTERS – WEDNESDAY 4 APRIL:
 New Zealand Drug Foundation (9:45 – 10am)
 Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand (10 – 10:15am)
 ActionStation (10:15 – 10:30am)
 Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (10:30 – 10:45am)
 Auckland Patients Group (APG) (11 – 11.15am)
 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (11.15 – 11.30am)
 Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ) (11.30 – 11.45am)
 The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP)(11.45am – 12pm)
 Medical Research Institute of New Zealand – MRINZ and Medical Cannabis research collaborative (12 – 12.15pm)

The livestream starting at 9:45 am, Wednesday:

https://t.co/VUkvzu81QT

Cross party crapping on cannabis bill

Despite a Curia poll that showed 78% support for medical use of cannabis not to be a criminal offence (and just 17% opposed), it looks like there may be a less than 50% vote in parliament tomorrow on the Swarbrick medical cannabis bill.

If the bill fails to pass it will be very poor representation by MPs in their first test of conscience this term.

All the Green MPs are said to be voting for the bill – good for them.

Very disappointingly Bill English says that National will bloc vote despite it being a conscience vote, giving reportedly just three MPs an exemption to vote for the bill. This is a very poor start to the political year for English and National.

RNZ: Most National MPs to vote against Green’s cannabis bill

“We’ve never treated drug issues in the National caucus as a conscience issue, but we are flexible in the sense that if people have a strong view in this, related to issues of chronic pain, then they have the freedom to vote for it if they wish,” National leader Bill English said.

The National Party will back the government legislation this afternoon.

National health spokesperson Jonathan Coleman said Labour has missed an opportunity to hit the right balance on medicinal cannabis.

And National are crapping on an opportunity to hit the right balance by bloc voting against one bill.

Ardern and Minister of Health David Clark have said they would support the bill at first vote, some compensation for putting up their own pathetic bill.

But some Labour MPs may vote against it.

Labour MP Peeni Henare is concerned about how far that bill goes, and has met with his fellow Māori MPs to discuss the issue.

“I’ve seen [cannabis] ravage small communities, families, households across the country …and of course those ones are Māori.

“I’ve seen [it] destroy families, destroy people. And that’s enough concern for me, let alone any research that suggests it’s a gateway drug to anything bigger or heavier,” he said.

Henare is on the wrong planet here. He’s talking about almost entirely different issues to the use of medical cannabis. This apparent level of ignorance is alarming.

NZ First MPs can vote as they please but it is being reported that most or all will vote against the bill. If that happens, again very disappointing. I hope Grey Power, who support the bill, give them all a bollocking overnight.

Winston Peters has said he will oppose the bill.

1 news:  ‘It’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free-for-all’ – Peters fiercely against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill

“It goes far too far. There is no restriction at all, it’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free-for-all now.”

That’s just ignorant nonsense. Any hope that Peters might rise to the responsibility of being deputy PM (and acting PM mid year when Ardern has her baby) has flown out the Window. He sounds like an ignorant, out of touch old twit. I hope voters remember and hammer for this.

I haven’t seen David Seymour’s view recently but he has previously been strongly in favour of cannabis law reform. However the vote is shaping up to be not close enough for his vote to make a difference.

From the Curia poll in support of making cannabis use for medical purpose legal:

  • National voters 78% (18% against)
  • Labour voters 78% (17% against)
  • NZ First 77% (23% against)
  • TOTAL 78% (17% against)

If over 50% of MPs vote against the preference of 4 out of 5 people it will be a travesty of democracy.

 

Two cannabis bills before Parliament

After a long time of Parliament avoiding dealing with the use of cannabis there are two bills that will be voted on in First Readings this week before Parliament. The Government bill is a cop out with limited and legally contradictory concessions. Chloe Swarbrick’s members’ bill addresses the medical cannabis issue far better and will be of most interest.

RNZ: MPs to vote on medicinal cannabis bills

MPs will vote this afternoon on the government’s plan to make medicinal cannabis more widely available.

The government’s bill lays the groundwork for a regulated medicinal cannabis industry and effectively allows terminally ill people to use illicit marijuana in the last year of their life. It will be considered by MPs today.

Green MP Chloe Sarbrick’s bill would allow patients to grow their own marijuana – with a doctor’s permission – to treat a terminal illness or debilitating condition. It will come before Parliament on Wednesday.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

This Bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The Bill will introduce an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil; provide a regulation-making power to enable the setting of standards that products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence must meet; and amend Schedule 2 of the Act so that cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products are no longer classed as controlled drugs.

This bill was introduced after a promise by Labour, but it has been widely criticised as being a cop out, and even the Minister who introduced it said that if people wanted more they should look to Swarbrick’s bill.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this bill is to make it legal for New Zealanders who are suffering from terminal illness or any debilitating condition to use cannabis or cannabis products with the support of a registered medical practitioner.

This is the bill that campaigners for access to medical cannabis are interested in as it would allow people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses to use, but there is also some strong opposition, with fears it opens the legal door to recreational use.

Bob McCoskrie, of Christian lobby group Family First NZ, said the government’s more “cautious and researched” legislation should go before a select committee.

But he said Ms Swarbrick’s bill should be “chucked in the bin”.

“There is no redeemable factor in it. It’s a grow-your-own-dope bill.”

That is a dopey claim devoid of compassion. There must be a redeemable factor in allowing people to legally alleviate pain and to try to reduce symptoms of awful illnesses, including terminal illnesses where death can’t be certified to be imminent.

1 News: Helen Clark backs Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill ahead of Labour’s legislation

Former prime minister Helen Clark is backing Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s bill to improve access to medicinal cannabis, ahead of the Labour-led Government’s own bill.

Ms Clark is now on a global drug policy commission which promotes the reduction of harm from drugs.

So Helen Clark has ignored David Clark’s bill and is promoting Swarbrick’s.

NZ Herald: Grey Power urges MPs to support Green’s medicinal cannabis bill

Grey Power is urging MPs to support the Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s bill on medicinal cannabis, which is set to have its first reading on Wednesday and potentially pave the way for greater access.

Grey Power president Tom O’Connor said MPs should support Swarbrick’s bill at the first reading so it can be explored by a select committee.

“Those with chronic pain should also have access to medical cannabis, if it offers them some relief.”

He said health professionals, not politicians, should decide who should be allowed to use cannabis for medical purposes.

O’Connor said Grey Power supported cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, but not home-grown cannabis for self-medication.

“Self-medication is hazardous at best and, for as long as recreational home grown cannabis is illegal, we cannot support its use for self-medication as it would be too easy to abuse.”

It is widely abused already, it’s hard to see that getting any worse with more liberal laws.

Unlike David Clark’s bill the Swarbrick bill will be a conscience vote. It will be interesting to see who votes for and against it – especially NZ First MPs, given the Grey Power support.

The Clark bill is a bit of a waste of time so I don’t care much about what happens with that. It should pass it’s first vote, but with a more comprehensive bill also coming before Parliament it is hardly necessary.

I hope that Swarbrick’s bill at least passes it’s first vote and goes to select Committee, where the public will be able to make submissions on it.

All Green MPs will probably vote for Swarbrick’s bill, and most Labour MPs should too – both Clark and Jacinda Ardern have said they will support it.

NZ First MPs could be mixed on it.

There will be definite opposition from some National MPs, and some will support it. The bill may depend on enough enlightened and compassionate National MPs supporting it.

Recently from Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ: Medical cannabis: Terminal vs Severe and Debilitating?

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:

The sensible thing for MPs to do is vote for both the Government and the Swarbrick bill to go to select committee, so the select committee can hear evidence on both bills, and work out which regime would be best to provide relief to those suffering from chronic pain.

It is worth reflecting that there is overwhelming public support for cannabis to be available for pain relief. A poll Curia did for the Drug Foundation last year had 78% support for medicial use of cannabis not to be a criminal offence and only 17% opposed.

The net support for not having medical use of cannabis being a criminal offence by party vote is:

  • National voters +60% (78% to 18%)
  • Labour voters +61% (78% to 17%)
  • NZ First +54% (77% to 23%)
  • Greens +77% (88% to 11%)

Cannabis referendum could disappoint

One of the policy wins for the Greens is a referendum on personal use of cannabis.

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

The ‘referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020’ is both good and bad news.

Cannabis laws and enforcement of them are hopeless, and long overdue for being radically reformed, so it is good to see tangible progress on this.

But I’m really quite disappointed by this.

Why do we need a referendum apart from appeasing NZ First? Polls have consistently shown public support for cannabis law reform.

A referendum in 2020 is likely to mean that legislation wouldn’t go through Parliament until 2021 at the earliest, and if National get back in they are unlikely to put any priority on it. This means any change could be four or five years away.

A simple referendum could be hobbled or watered down by actual legislation if it’s not specific enough.

Perhaps legislation could be done in advance of the referendum so we know what we are voting on. Then the referendum could be to approve of or reject the legislation. But that still means at least a 3 year wait.

I won’t get too annoyed yet, before details are available, but I have some concerns.


Note that this addresses personal use of cannabis as opposed to medicinal use – in Labour’s Taking action in our first 100 days:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

Ardern has not been specific but has said that most of their ‘first 100 days’ pledges remain intact.


UPDATE – there could be even more disappointment

James Shaw just said in an interview on The Nation that it hasn’t been decided yet whether the referendum will be binding or not.

So it could be in 3 years, and toothless.

 

Genter v Dunne on medical cannabis

In Parliament yesterday Green MP Julie Anne Genter questioned Associate health Minister Peter Dunne on the ease of access to medical cannabis.

Dunne said that the Australian system of registering medical users wasn’t working well, and the way the police are supposed to be ‘compassionate’ when deciding whether to charge cannabis users in New Zealand is ‘pragmatic’ and more effective.

But it means many medical users of cannabis products are still acting illegally.

Dunne suggests that those wanting to use medical cannabis should visit the Ministry of Health website for information:

Prescribing cannabis-based products

Please note that the Government does not support the use of unprocessed or partially processed cannabis leaf or flower preparations for medicinal use.

There are three types of cannabis-based products that may be considered for Ministerial approval:

  1. Pharmaceutical grade products that have consent for distribution in New Zealand. Consent for distribution means that the product has been determined by Medsafe to meet acceptable safety and efficacy requirements for distribution in New Zealand. The only product meeting this criterion currently is Sativex® for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. It may also be prescribed as a non-consented product for some other medical conditions.
  2. Pharmaceutical grade products that do not have consent for distribution in New Zealand, for example a product that has been manufactured by a pharmaceutical company overseas.
  3. Non-pharmaceutical grade products, that is products that are not manufactured to internationally recognised pharmaceutical manufacturing standards. They may, or may not, have been intended to be used as medicines.

The MoH has Guidelines to assess applications for Ministerial approval to prescribe, supply and administer

It looks very unlikely that National will even consider any possible law changes on cannabis, which means that under the current Government the current limitations are likely to remain at least until after the election.

Draft transcript:


Drugs, Illegal—Medical Cannabis

12. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: Will he recommend his Government change the law so that New Zealanders with terminal illnesses using medical cannabis are not at risk of being raided by the Police and prosecuted.

Hon PETER DUNNE (Associate Minister of Health): Patients using approved cannabis-based products, such as Sativex and other approved non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis products, are not at risk.

For those choosing to use raw cannabis or unapproved cannabis-based products, I have received a number of assurances from the Commissioner of Police that small-scale use by the terminally ill is not a priority, and that approach is consistent with the emphasis on compassion set out in the Government’s 2015 National Drug Policy.

I have considered the compassionate access scheme implemented in New South Wales. However, following very frank discussions with the Australian delegation at last month’s United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting about the workability of such a scheme, I have concluded that New Zealand’s more pragmatic approach based around the pillars of compassion, proportion, and innovation that underpin the National Drug Policy is the more appropriate course to follow

Julie Anne Genter: So rather than changing the law to reflect the fact that we think that it is acceptable for sick people to use cannabis to alleviate their suffering, is he suggesting that people should continue to break the law hoping that the police will not pursue them?

Hon PETER DUNNE: I make two points in response. Firstly, there is huge distinction to be drawn between raw cannabis and cannabis-based medicinal products. The Government has no interest in making any legal change, nor does any other party in Parliament, as far as I am aware, to the status of the raw cannabis plant.

With regard to cannabis-based medicines, the best advice I would give any patient who feels they might benefit from such a medicine is to talk to their general practitioner and their specialist about accessing the pathway that is in place.

They can view that at the Ministry of Health website; it is a very simple pathway to follow and if it is determined that that is the best treatment available to them, then it can be made available to them.

For people who choose to go outside that system, then they do run the risk, particularly if they are using the raw product, but, as I said earlier, I have been assured by the police that they will adopt a compassionate approach.

Julie Anne Genter: Without a clear legal framework or a register for patients, how will the police be able to judge who is a legitimate medical user and who to be compassionate with?

Hon PETER DUNNE: The member raises a good point, and it was one that I pursued with the Australians when I discussed the matter with them.

The absence of a register is actually no salvation in this regard because they find exactly the same problem with the register in New South Wales in determining who is a legitimate name to be included upon it—and bear in mind in the New South Wales case you can include up to 3 other people as supporters.

But they have also found that a number of people who are suppliers, when confronted by the police about being suppliers, say that they only supply to patients with terminal illnesses. So the whole thing has become, essentially, unworkable. I think the pragmatic approach that we have here, provided it is exercised with compassion, is the far more prudent course to follow.

Julie Anne Genter: Without a law change, how can he ensure that terminally and chronically ill patients in New Zealand will not find themselves in court for using cannabis to alleviate their suffering?

Hon PETER DUNNE: I did not hear the first part of the member’s question, but I think what she was seeking was some clarification as to how we can protect people from the potential risk. I come back to what I said in response to the earlier supplementary question.

The very best step that anyone who feels that they would benefit from a cannabis-based medical product can take is to talk to their general practitioner about accessing the pathway set out so clearly on the Ministry of Health website.

People who resort to just growing a bit in the backyard or talking to a mate and getting some from them do run some risks.

If they have genuine health issues, my absolutely strong advice is to talk to their general practitioner about accessing the pathway that is currently available.


For more information on medical cannabis in New Zealand see this support site:

Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ

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.

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.

Minor MOH changes on cannabis based products

The Ministry of health has made minor changes to guidelines for medicinal cannabis applications.

Changes to terminology around applications for cannabis-based products

The Ministry of Health has made changes to terminology used in its descriptions of and applications for cannabis-based products.

These changes are visible on the Ministry’s website, where the previously used description medicinal cannabis has been replaced by cannabis-based products.

Additionally, the previously used term criteria has been replaced byguidelines to better reflect how applications in this area are assessed.

Forms used during the application process for such products have been changed to incorporate the new description.

The changes do not impact on the legal status of cannabis or any cannabis-based products.

They have been made to provide more clarity and consistency in describing cannabis-based products, when compared to other products or substances in the area of medicines control.

More information is available on the Prescribing cannabis-based products page.

Additionally, the Ministry is today publishing a document which it believes may be of public interest. The document outlines external consultation which recently took place on the guidelines used to assess applications to prescribe cannabis-based products.

Included is an amendment to the guidelines which means that a patient no longer needs to be hospitalised when treatment with a non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based product is initiated:

Stuff reports: Guidelines for applying for medicinal cannabis barely touched following review

Almost no changes have been made to guidelines for people applying for medicinal cannabis –  a process that failed to deliver pain relief for former union boss Helen Kelly.

The guidelines were introduced last year after Nelson teenager, Alex Renton, successfully applied to Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne for a cannabis product, Elixinol.

Those guidelines were subsequently used by Kelly, former Council of Trade Unions boss, who criticised the process for being too complicated and requiring information that is “impossible to access”.

Kelly was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer more than a year ago – she is illegally sourcing her own cannabis for pain relief.

The feedback from the review was “unanimously supportive that the guidelines and process are sound,” Dunne said.

His position of a “robust and scientific” approach to cannabis has not changed, which means “identifying the greatest therapeutic benefits and determining the most appropriate ratios, dosage and delivery mechanisms”.

“Otherwise we are essentially flying blind and hoping for the best, an approach that flies in the face of evidence-based medicines policy.

“It is my hope that by releasing this feedback it will go some way to balancing out the irresponsible and ill-informed messages being passed off as fact, and provide a degree of reassurance to those who are genuinely looking for respite to significant health issues,” he said.