NORML’s 2018 Priorities
Medicinal cannabis bills: The Labour-NZ First-Green Government has introduced a Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis, joining a Green Party Bill already before parliament.
NORML has adopted a Four-Point Model for Patient-Focused Medicinal Cannabis Law Reform:
- allow botanical cannabis as well as pharmaceutical preparations;
- immediate effect, not a long term pathway;
- allow domestic production, to bring down costs and increase availability; and
- allow self provision – grow/make your own herbal remedy.
The Government Bill will allow domestic production (but not self-provision), will create a legal defence for terminally ill patients to use cannabis (but not to legally obtain it), and will remove Cannabidiol (CBD) from the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The Green Party Bill is more closely aligned to our Four-Point Model: it would allow self-provision (home growing) and license dispensaries as in many states in the USA.
Both Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark have said they will vote for the Green Party Bill, sending a clear signal to their colleagues, and asking the public to have their say about the relative merits of the two Bills during the select committee stage. We think the two Bills could be merged together. Be ready to write a submission and have your say.
Referendum: The Greens have also secured a cannabis referendum to “legalise personal use”, be held at or before the next election. The wording and the process are yet to be decided. We must push for it to be binding, like all previous Government referendums. The referendum should also be about a specific proposal – eg the NZ Drug Foundation’s Model Drug Law – or it could take years to work out and implement after any referendum is ‘won’.
The NORML Board has formed a Campaign Team to coordinate a broad, non-partisan campaign for both these projects.
NORML’s campaign themes
Cannabis should be a health issue, not a crime (now Government policy)
A regulated, adults-only, taxable market for low risk substances like cannabis (now advocated by the NZ Drug Foundation, and former Minister Peter Dunne)
One in twenty Kiwis use cannabis medicinally and need safe, legal and affordable access to natural cannabis as well as refined products (now advocated by almost everyone)
NORML’s current projects
- Medicinal cannabis bills: we will help coordinate efforts to support the two Bills before parliament, encourage submissions to make them better, and lobby MPs
- Cannabis referendum – working to ensure it is binding, has the best wording, and is about a specific proposal that meets our campaign goals above.
- Calling for a cannabis armistice or amnesty on arrests, while we have these important public debates.
- There is a review scheduled of the offense provisions in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 – we will be ready to help with submissions.
- Scoping support for New Zealand’s first National Medicinal Cannabis Conference.
- Follow-up poll to our 2016 UMR poll. We would like to repeat the questions every year to map trends, as funds allow.
- Pressure health officials to revise their guidelines for prescribing cannabis, to make safe legal access easier for both patients and doctors.
- Lobby Pharmac to subsidise medicinal cannabis products
- Provide support for health practitioners so they can better respond to patient needs, including developing an information pack for practitioners and patients.
Our other ongoing activities include:
- Annual Conference – usually June or November
- Printing new leaflets and stickers for free distribution
- Website updates and increasing our social media presence
- Annual J Day held the first Saturday of May every year (in 2018, it is Saturday 5 May)
- NORML Bustline (09-3025255) providing support and advice for victims of prohibition
- NORML Awards
- NORML Grant Programme
- Nurture independent activists or groups with mentoring, advice and resources
- Fundraising programmes as required
Local branches, online groups and individual activism
Consider forming a local NORML branch or activist group if there isn’t one in your area (please contact us for more information). Branches are more effective than working alone, are provided with campaign materials and can apply for part-funding of local projects. 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.
A lot of activity is now on social media. We encourage you to join the NORML Facebook group. If you spent a lot of time on line and have a calm, humorous temperament join NORML’s Organised Response Crew, to rapidly and effectively respond to online coverage, help neutralise damaging arguments, spread out campaign themes, and mentor budding online activists.
While social media has become an incredibly useful organising tool, it is important that activism also takes part in the real world and is not confined to an online bubble. With opinion polls showing almost 80% support for medicinal cannabis, and 60% support for wider legalisation, there is no reason to be afraid to bring up the topic with your friends, family, club members or co-workers.
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”. Build on the work of those who have gone before you. Be consistent. Promote and use our campaign themes (above). 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, share our posts on Facebook, give NORML a donation, hand out leaflets, put up signs, help with stalls, vigils, or protests. Become a member!
Here are some more ways you can help
- Make a donation to keep us working. ASB “NORML NZ Inc” 12-3057-0594667-00. Setting up an automatic payment is a great way of supporting our work!
- Run stalls or hand out leaflets at events in your area.
- Get our leaflets into local stores, clubs or doctor’s surgeries and top them up.
- Ask your MP for help to end the “War on Drugs” / change the outdated Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Sending an email is easy. Sending a proper letter is even better, or visit in person to really make an impact. Be polite and reasonable. Let us know how they respond.
- Get on the electoral roll and vote for parties and local candidates that support cannabis law reform (Ph 0800 800 610 or any post office).
- Write letters to the local paper or leave comments on their site – it is vital that we all respond to any cannabis-related articles. Join NORML’s Organised Response Crew (ORCs)
- Ring talkback radio – using a nom de chanvre if you prefer.
- School up! For answers to common questions, polls and key facts see www.norml.org.nz/library/
- Learn your civil rights and teach them to your friends.
- Talk to your family and friends.
- Speak up at any groups you belong to (such as environmental groups, sports clubs, church groups, Rotary, etc) to pass a motion supporting cannabis law reform.
- Like us on Facebook. Join our Twitter feed (@normlnz) and check look around our website for heaps more information.
Do any of these ideas and projects specifically appeal to you? Or do you have skills, contacts or advice related to what we are doing? We would love to hear from you!
Please contact us if you would like NORML’s free activist introduction pack – for budding activists, leaflets to distribute into appropriate local stores, doctor’s offices, etc – and keep them topped up, civil rights leaflets for local Court Support actions, to get involved with any of our current projects, or to be put in touch with other local groups.