An aside: wondering if anyone has noticed that Peter Dunne (minister of the Crown, associate health minister with responsibilities for drug policy and all that) has publicly backed regulated sales of cannabis? No other party, including Labour or the Greens (the later now only support a review of our drug law), has gone that far. Why this isn't bigger news surprises me greatly.
I like Helen's blog, and yours too Russell. It's worth noting that the legal barriers aren't solely because it's cannabis... the same barriers exist for any other unapproved medicines.
We've done a brief Q&A to clarify some bits around medical cannabis.
Posting this link without comment:
To be fair, Labour also has plenty of this in its ranks.
Yep. And there was silence from all parties in respsonse to the new policy. And only NZ First sent an MP to the launch.
Good summary, Russell. I don't think we can overstate the political context under which the policy was developed - we have a conservative, right-wing government which releases a drug policy that says "alcohol and other drug problems are first and foremost health issues." There's no use of the word "scourge", or "evil". The tone is important - I think it's a significant shift. And yes, one that needs to be backed by health-focused actions.
We reckon there's heaps in the new policy to work with. You highlight the "early warning system" - that's a great start. And while MODA hasn't been chucked in the bin where it belongs, I reckon there's enough of a hook in what's in the policy to make some pragmatic changes.
I also want to highlight something - the policy has benefited greatly from the direct input of "civil society". In fact, the policy's goal was drawn directly from a consultation/consensus building process we ran 2 years ago. Many other themes were also drawn from this process which involved people in recovery, treatment providers, people who use drugs, grandparents who are raising their grandkids, and even the Police Association.
You mention the education component. Yeah, that's part of it (and it will need to be done right). But one of the first things being looked at here is a destigmatisation programme - *possibly* along the lines of the Like Minds, Like Mine mental health work. That could be a bloody important piece of work.
Finally, the Drug Harm Index refresh - we understand this is being led by Ministry of Health this time, not the Police.
Allow me to shit on your parade: switch to Google.
Perfect summary of the situation, as usual, Russell.
I think what this case highlighted is that our Medicines Act can work really well, in that the minister has the ability to make these decisions.
It also shows that, fundamentally, we don't need to change our drug laws to allow medical cannabis (we do need to change laws for lots of other reasons though). All we simply need to do is have a much wider range of medpot products regulated under medicines law (and then have those fully subsidised). This could include for example homegrown equivalents of Bedrocan (who currently cannot maintain a regular supply in the Netherlands or in Canada, let alone importing to NZ).
[I'm not sure the cannabis reform people protesting outside the hospital and ministry were of much help (on this case or any other TBH).]
Minister Dunne is showing himself to be very open to this issue now.... he isn't going to come out tomorrow and free the weed, but my goodness he is open to looking at evidence (or at least directs his officials to look at evidence). My sense is that he doesn't want to be left behind as the world moves forward pretty quickly. He talked a lot to other govt folks about medical canabis at a recent UN meeting. And has been very open to meeting patient groups back home... saying recently he would happily reform any laws as necessary if they created barriers - advice from the Ministry is that there are few legal barriers to getting Medpot products approved (including approving NZ-based cultivation for research), but maybe some regulations that could be streamlined.
Watch this space. But don't expect revolution.
No comment on the PM's comments.
We interviewed "the real Omar" a while back. In his words “Until we come together as a people and say enough is enough, everything that’s happening is going to continue.”