Support for cannabis law reform has never been higher – and everyone knows it. If we’ve reached a tipping point, we must work to ensure we get the reforms needed.
A broad, non-partisan campaign is needed. There is now strong public support for law reform. We don’t need to convince everyone. We do need to mobilise our public support.
Medicinal cannabis is not only the most urgent aspect of law reform, but opens minds and changes attitudes. It is worth noting that medical came first in every US state that has made cannabis legal. Medicinal cannabis is high on the media agenda and we can assume it will continue to feature heavily in media coverage this year.
- There are too many smokers to arrest
- Cannabis should be a health issue, not a crime
- There should be a regulated, adults-only, taxable market for low risk substances like cannabis
- One in twenty New Zealanders use cannabis medicinally – patients need safe, legal and affordable access (to natural cannabis as well as refined products)
You may have noticed that many of these themes, which we have been promoting for years, have been widely adopted by advocates, media and even politicians!
Here are the campaigns and projects NORML is working on this year:
- It’s election year: we will promote understanding and discussion of sensible cannabis policies including the Green Party, the Cannabis Party and others.
- There is a review of the offense provisions in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 scheduled – we will facilitate submissions, promoting proportionality and innovation.
- The 26th Annual J Day is Saturday 6 May 2017. NORML coordinates nationwide events and supports local organisers with promotion and advice.
- New Zealand’s first National Medicinal Cannabis Conference – either June or November this year? NORML is scoping support and feasibility for this.
- Follow-up poll to our 2016 UMR poll. We would like to repeat the questions every year to map trends, as funds allow.
- Damian O’Connor’s medicinal cannabis private member’s bill could be drawn any month so we need to be ready. We will Lobby MPs to support it.
- Rose Renton’s medicinal cannabis petition will be presented to the Health Select Committee in April.
- Sue Grey is leading a legal challenge against the Ministry of Health to stop unlawfully treating cannabidiol as a controlled drug requiring special approval, when it is a prescription medicine that any doctor can prescribe. NORML is providing assistance, including recruiting patients, caregivers and other interested parties as plaintiffs.
- NORML is also considering legal action against Health and Customs officials to reconsider their incorrect position that no cannabis product can be “lawfully obtained” from the USA.
- We will continue to lobby to amend Section 22 of the forty-year-old Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977, so that it allows rather than prohibits doctors from prescribing medicinal cannabis.
- We will continue to pressure health officials to revise their guidelines for prescribing cannabis, to make safe legal access easier for both patients and doctors.
- We will lobby Pharmac to subsidise medicinal cannabis products (as it did with Herceptin and Keytruda) and/or subsidise individual patients who have obtained legal approval.
- NORML’s position is to promote treating medicinal cannabis as a herbal remedy, not a pharmaceutical. Once the new Health and Supplementary Products Bill becomes law, we will ask the Director-General of Health to declare raw natural medicinal cannabis to be a herbal remedy.
- NORML will help provide support for health practitioners so they can better respond to patient needs. This will include developing an information pack for practitioners and running an information booth at the North Island GP Conference, 10-12 June in Rotorua.
- Annual Conference – either June or November
- Printing new leaflets and stickers for free distribution
- Website overhaul and increasing our social media presence
- NORML Bustline – providing support and advice for victims of prohibition
- NORML Awards – nominations and awards. Possibly a ceremony?
- NORML Grant Programme – quarterly assessment of grant applications
- Support the work of effective activists or groups not aligned to NORML, with mentoring advice and resources
- Fundraising programmes as required
Local branches and groups
Local groups have their own activities, as well as taking part in the campaigns and projects listed above. These may include local letter-writing campaigns, stalls at local events, fundraising raffles, and so on.
Whatever you do, make the most of your efforts:
- We are NORML people. We show courtesy, integrity, perseverance and self control towards all.
- Don’t act alone. Form a local NORML support group – unity is strength. Share it. Support those who “go public”.
- Ask your MP for help to end the “War on Drugs” / change the Misuse of Drugs Act (now 42 years old). Sending an email is easy. But if you want to be taken seriously, send a proper letter or visit in person. This really is the most effective thing for most people to do, yet very few actually do it.
- Build relationships with your local media, other advocates, community leaders and local politicians. Do it in the real world, not just online.
- Everyone can do something – write a letter, post hot news on your Facebook page, give NORML a donation (ASB 12 3057 0594667-00 or PayPal email@example.com), sell NORML raffle tickets, hand out leaflets, put up signs, help with stalls, vigils, Court support or protests. Become a member. Sign up at J Day!