Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The new medical cannabis law is quite a bit more than nothing

25 Responses

  • Worik Stanton,

    Definitely better than nothing.

    Was it too far to have protection better than "legal defense"?

    Protection for growers would have good too. Too far?

    Otepoti • Since Nov 2007 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It'd be a good result to have this and Chloe Swarbrick's members bill before select committee at the same time. David Clark has already said he's voting for Chloe's bill at first reading.

    It will be much more likely to pass at first reading if Bill English allows his caucus a conscience vote. His MPs should stop trying to play gotcha and ask to be able vote their consciences.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Worik Stanton,

    Definitely better than nothing.

    Was it too far to have protection better than “legal defense”?

    A statutory defence is a defence in law, so it’s okay – the same as being legal, in fact. I think it will have an impact on police willingness to prosecute in general.

    Protection for growers would have good too. Too far?

    For now, yeah. I was specifically told that it’s not there because they didn’t have the numbers to get it through.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Bill English allows his caucus a conscience vote.

    He ought to...wasn't there a poll or somesuch...?

    When Clark's Bill is published, I guess I'll find it here?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But ... this bill can be amended. The select committee stage will be important.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    It's a good bill. The defense needs to be extended to all patients and their suppliers. The game-changer is allowing a domestic market to develop - that *should* result in more products and at better cost. How that scheme is developed, and who sits on the advisory group (needs patient representation), will be very important.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Drug Foundation's response:

    The Drug Foundation welcomed the government’s announcement to establish a government-run medical cannabis scheme as part of its First 100 Days commitment.

    The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill will build a solid framework to oversee the domestic cultivation and manufacture of medical cannabis products, and improve advice to the medical profession about how to prescribe medical cannabis products. New products are going to be made available on prescription to patients from pharmacies.

    “The scheme would address the current barriers of cost, accessibility and fear that patients face in accessing medical cannabis,” said Ross Bell, Drug Foundation Executive Director.

    “The proposed scheme is very similar to models that have been working well in places such as The Netherlands and Canada. The encouragement of a domestic supply market could be a game changer by expanding the range of products, as well as addressing the current expense of importing products from overseas.”

    “Medical professionals, who are currently very nervous about medical cannabis, should have confidence in the scheme. But more importantly, patients will be the big beneficiaries of the scheme, once it’s up and running.”

    “And therein lies a problem, the scheme will take some time to be fully operational. The estimate of a two-year wait is too long. We need a better stop-gap measure than the bill currently provides.”

    The bill introduces a statutory defense for possessing and using cannabis, but is limited only to patients who are expected by their doctors to be in their last year of life.

    “It’s understandable the bill includes such a time limit, given some tricky political maneuvering must have been needed to include this defense. 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. We would want this protection to be given to all patients and to those currently supplying medical cannabis.”

    The Drug Foundation also wants medical cannabis patients represented on the advisory committee overseeing the scheme.

    “This bill shows the kind of compassion a huge majority of New Zealanders want for patients whose lives can be improved by using medical cannabis. But to ensure that compassion is built into the scheme, medical cannabis patients must be at the table to ensure their voice is at the centre of the scheme.”

    But Graeme Edgeler has already pointed out that there actually isn't an expiration date in the bill, so ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Protection for growers would have good too. Too far?

    For now, yeah. I was specifically told that it’s not there because they didn’t have the numbers to get it through.

    According to that bastion of sound journalism TVNZ...

    The scheme also allows for the domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products, including oils and balms.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Poorly phrased - meant the 2 year time frame the government's estimated to set up the scheme.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Stuff appears to have the best coverage at the moment... including a tortuous interview with Clark...a transcript would be nice.

    The comments section makes a good read...

    MaxKelly
    Really Labour/Greens/NZ 1st?! What a cop out and what a disappointment to all those non-terminal patients who gain relief from Cannabis products such as balms. That included my Sister, Helen, she swore by the balms and was lucky enough to have a steady supply of them up till the time she died.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Worik Stanton, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Astatutory defence is a defence in law, so it’s okay – the same as being legal, in fact. I think it will have an impact on police willingness to prosecute in general.

    It is a defence in law. But it is a defence. It is used in court. It is nothing like being legal.

    Whilst it may have some effect on police actions, probably, police can still use the law to harras and terrify people. The search provisions of themisuse of drugs act will (?) still apply.

    This is worth supporting. But do not be fooled. This is still classifying cannabis users, even medical users, as not quite good enough.

    We have a long journey. We must hold Labour's feet to the fire and make them see their hypocrisy. All animals are equal, but some...

    Otepoti • Since Nov 2007 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Life being a terminal condition - no way out alive - we all might just have wriggle room :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Life being a terminal condition - no way out alive - we all might just have wriggle room :)

    And death being the ultimate disability, we're all somewhere on the "spectrum" :)

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4585 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    1) Any advancement in this area is welcome, and should be applauded...

    2) But really... how wilfully blind/ignorant do you have to be to make such a half step?

    So, the terminally ill have a legal defence for using... but if their friends or family grow or supply it to them, they could still be in for prosecution? I guess these terminally ill people (possibly wheelchair bound or bed-ridden?) will have to grow it for themselves then?

    I'm guessing most that are well enough to grow it, probably aren't allowed to use it? (ie. not in the last 12-months of their expected demise?)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 885 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Meh!

    While any reform of our drug laws must be considered progress, as drafted, this bill is unlikely to improve the situation for more than a handful of people, if any.

    The vast majority of medical users choose to use cannabis for pain relief, as a natural and effective alternative to addictive opioids. Restricting access to those in palliative care with less than 12 months to live adds a cruel twist to the government's 'medical cannabis within 100 days' promise. It feels like the government has cheated.

    While there is mention of patients being able to access their medicine through pharmacies, the lack of any corresponding right to grow restricts them to expensive imported product. So nothing's really changed there.

    The law continues to criminalise green fairies. We're told that the Police will be able to use their discretion when they choose who to prosecute. Excuse me, but haven't we been there before?

    I understand that this issue is politically sensitive, especially when it requires cooperation from NZ First. Chloe's bill is hovering in the background and I'd like to share others' optimism that this represents a small step towards more sensible drug laws. But I'm not holding my breath.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    SSDD

    Well, maybe not...

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Have to say I'm disappointed. Here's what I'd like to see:

    (1) Removal of medicinal cannabis use altogether from Schedule C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981
    (2) Analgesic user allowance for those in chronic pain
    (3) "Green Card" ID system for medicinal cannabis users- but can be revoked if there is deliberate distribution to non-medical users (an interim measure, designed to placate the anti-recreational interest groups)
    (4) A broad set of medical conditions that are eligible for medicinal cannabis administration
    (5) Personal growth and use eligibility for groups other than the terminally ill.

    I would suggest that if you agree with the above, someone should set up a submission template to deal with potentially widened access eligibility and scope for medicinal use in this context. Preferably with evidential accompaniement of efficacy in this context and legislative and regulatory examples from overseas.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 481 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Alfie,

    Agree, it's practically useless as is. And just what is NZ First's objection - surely their older persons membership would be supportive of prescription natural pain relief that actually works where opioids often don't? There are a virtual flood of diseased hip joints out there in patients too old to perform yet another surgery on.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    older persons membership would be supportive of prescription natural pain relief that actually works where opioids often don’t?

    Its an actual thing....bloody old people, (as my kids would say)

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    I would suggest that if you agree with the above, someone should set up a submission template to deal with potentially widened access eligibility and scope for medicinal use in this context. Preferably with evidential accompaniement of efficacy in this context and legislative and regulatory examples from overseas.

    I think select committee is going to be important – especially if both bills go through. On one hand, high-quality expert submissions – on the other a mass submission as you describe.

    Someone needs to get Grey Power branches on to this – lobbying not only NZ First, but National MPs.

    The petition Rose Renton delivered to Parliament had 17,000 signatures. 17,000 submissions to the select committee, all asking for the same things, would focus minds enormously.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    A scathing review of it;

    http://vjmpublishing.nz/?p=6041

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Those who are medical practitioners or scientists might also want to mobilise professional associations to back reform. As a rule, social and legislative reform is the result of a simple equation: Mass movement + evidence-based proof of desired efficacy to substantiate claims = successful legislative reform. LGBT communities did this with our legislative reform efforts, so it's time to apply those lessons elsewhere within the political landscape.

    Recreational user groups might want to take a backseat for the duration of this campaign. Moreover, there will need to be competitor monitoring- that means disciplined and constant surveillance of opponent websites and deconstruction of their claims. This is what Family First is up to- a Say No to Dope anti-reform website that tries to map support for medicinal cannabis onto support for recreational cannabis: http://www.saynotodope.org.nz

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 481 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2897 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Prof Paul Smith from the University of Otago Medical School has called for wider access to medicinal cannabis than the proposed law currently allows. In particular, he suggests that non-terminal patients, not just the terminally ill, would benefit greatly from medicinal cannabis.

    Judging by his qualifications, Prof Smith is an expert in this area.

    Prof Smith is a professor of neuropharmacology at the Otago department of pharmacology and toxicology, is the author of a book titled Cannabis on the Brain, and is a principal researcher at the Brain Research New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

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