Ministry cannabis advice based on definition difficulties

The Ministry of Health advised against making it easier (and at least semi-legal) for people suffering from chronic pain to access cannabis products for relief because of claimed difficulties with legal definitions.

That sounds like a cop out to me. It’s up to Parliament to work out the law and legal definitions, and helping people shouldn’t be refused based on departmental definition difficulties.

It has also gave Labour an excuse to cop out of it’s campaign promise to make medical cannabis available.

NZH:  Medicinal cannabis: Ministry of Health advised against decriminalisation for those in chronic pain

The Ministry of Health advised against decriminalising medicinal cannabis for those in chronic pain, saying it would lead to major issues over its legal definition.

The advice is contained in a regulatory impact statement, released at the end of last year, on the Government’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

The impact statement said decriminalising for those in chronic pain would be problematic.

“Chronic pain is difficult to define, subjective, and would potentially cover a large patient group (21 per cent of adults experience chronic pain). Extending this proposal to this group would be likely to result in significant dispute around the definition of chronic pain.”

So ‘chronic pain’ would be difficult to define. Chronic pain can be bloody difficult to live with too, but the Ministry and the Government don’t seem to care about people suffering from that.

So the Amendment Bill avoided defining chronic pain. In other words they have ignored the needs of people suffering from chronic pain

As well as this the Bill proposes a flawed means of dying patients using medical cannabis – they will be able to claim a defence against using cannabis but it will remain illegal for them to grow it or obtain it and it will remain illegal for anyone to supply them with it.

Rebecca Reider, who uses medicinal cannabis, said those in chronic pain should also be able to use cannabis without being criminalised.

“It’s great that the Government recognises a compassionate approach to terminally ill patients is needed. But what about non-terminal patients? Why can’t the Government show that amnesty to everyone who has a doctor recommend cannabis?”

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell also said the provision for those with a terminal illness – defined as someone who can reasonably expect their life to end within 12 months – was too narrow.

“A one-year window simply does not go far enough to cover people with chronic pain and any terminal illness, and needs to be reconsidered by the select committee.”

Labour, and Jacinda Ardern, at least implied that would take a compassionate approach to people who suffered, but instead took a technical approach and avoided addressing it.

Health Minister David Clark has said that the bill, introduced at the end of last month, was a compassionate measure that would ensure no prosecutions while a new prescribing framework is set up.

The bill, which fulfils a 100-day promise, was softened to gain the support of New Zealand First, and will pass with the support of the Greens.

Bullshit. It’s a less than half arsed attempt to be seen to doing something they promised to do without actually doing much.

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.

So they are effectively admitting that their own bill is a crock – a crooked attempt to appear as if they are keeping a promise.

So what if some people without major pain manage to use a bit of cannabis less illegally than now? People are still suffering and are putting themselves at legal risk.

Compassion my arse. Political gutlessness.



Discharge without conviction on cannabis charges

In what could be seen as a loophole in drug laws a Nelson woman has been discharged without conviction for importing medical cannabis products because she got a prescription for it overseas.

Radio NZ reports: Nelson medical cannabis case

Rebecca Reider, who has complex chronic pain syndrome, was facing five charges of possession of cannabis oil and other products.

She was also charged with importing cannabis products, including medicated chocolate.

However, her lawyer Sue Grey was able to use a clause in the Misuse of Drugs Act to argue the law allows exemptions, when the drug is prescribed overseas, for up to one month’s supply

Ms Reider, who is from California, had obtained a medical prescription for the cannabis product when she was visiting family. She later posted herself the cannabis chocolate to her Nelson address.

A judge in Nelson this week discharged Ms Reider without conviction on all charges.

Sue Grey told Nine to Noon if her client had had the medicated chocolate with her when she came back to New Zealand it would not have been an issue under the legal exemption. It was only because she posted it and it was intercepted that she was charged.

The section of the Misuse of Drugs Act that the case was argued on:

“A person, may, while entering or leaving New Zealand, possess a controlled drug that’s required for treating a medical condition, of the person – or of a person in their care or control – if the quantity of the drug is no more than one month of supply and it’s lawfully supplied to the person overseas and supplied for the purpose of treating a medical condition.”


She said her clients’ cannabis was legally prescribed overseas by a doctor, it was a proper medicated product and, if brought back to New Zealand by Miss Reider, it seems it would have fallen within the law’s one month exemption.

However, the judge accepted the consequences of Ms Reider’s offending (in receiving it in the post) were the same, and ruled that she be discharged without conviction.

Ms Grey said the whole purpose of the Misuse of Drugs Act was to protect people against dangerous things, but the medical issue was completely different, with different considerations.

“The way I read it, it’s quite a simple job for parliament, or the minister, to reschedule medicinal drugs and make it so much easier for people to access them when they need them.”

Associate health Minister Peter Dunne recently announced that the Ministry of health would review procedures for dealing with applications to use medicinal cannabis.

Meanwhile there have been reports that Martin Crowe had been self medicating with medical cannabis over the last year of his life.

Mike Selvey at The Guardian:  Martin Crowe: a batting master craftsman who was ahead of his time

It is just under a year, during the Cricket World Cup, that last I saw him.

That day, he had told me that he had been given a 5% chance of living for a further year. The odds were correct: he was 13 days shy of that 12 months when he passed away peacefully. He had been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma a couple of years previously but appeared to be in remission, cleared, until the cancer returned, in the virulent terminal form of double-hit lymphoma.

The apparently hale nature of his condition was a camouflage. When he was awake, he said, he did indeed feel good, but rather than undergoing yet more chemotherapy he was by then self-medicating with liquid marijuana and sleeping 15 hours a day. Happy hours though, he said.

It seems like it is a matter of time before medical cannabis becomes easier and legal to obtain in New Zealand.