A smart approach to the cannabis referendum, and medicinal cannabis

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Controversy over edibles shows a smart approach is needed for the cannabis referendum and for medicinal cannabis

Responding to controversy over edible forms of cannabis, NORML spokesperson calls for a well-funded public education campaign ahead of the cannabis referendum, and a model based on social equity, social retail enterprises and social clubs.

“It’s important the public can base their vote on clear factual information, not hysteria about evil gummy bears spread by the likes of Family First,” said Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for NORML New Zealand (the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

“The government needs to start spending some of the $13.4 million set aside for the referendum in the Budget on a public education campaign.”

“It doesn’t need to take sides, but it does need to promote factual discourse with the likes of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Officer.”

In a recent blog post, Chris Fowlie said that a model based on social equity, social enterprises and social clubs “could be what it takes to win the cannabis referendum.”

“We need a rational nationwide discussion over what what policy would best resolve the most concerns, be the most broadly supported, and would have the best chance of passing.”

“Banning gummy bears seems like a no-brainer. Let’s move on.”

Public consultation on the Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme is also expected to begin soon.

NORML has advocated a 4-point approach to make medicinal cannabis more affordable and accessible for New Zealand patients:

  1. Botanical cannabis not just pharma products
  2. Immediate effect, not just a long-term development pathway
  3. Domestic production including small scale providers (families & individuals)
  4. Self provision – choice to grow/make your own herbal remedies

Chris Fowlie, who is also CEO of medicinal cannabis startup Zeacann, says “to make a real difference” we need not just local production but also “near pharma” manufacturing standards, changes to the prescription rules so doctors don’t need to beg politicians for approval, and guidance for medical professionals so they can prescribe and dispense more confidently.

UPDATE: consultation on the medical cannabis scheme is OPEN NOW UNTIL 7 AUGUST: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/medicinal-cannabis-scheme-consultation