Patient-focused medicinal cannabis: NORML’s 4-point model for law reform

Our policy goals for medicinal cannabis are patient-focused.

The Labour-led Government has said it will introduce legislation within 100 days to legalise medicinal cannabis.

We anticipate the supply of medical cannabis in a controlled, licensed manner to alleviate conditions identified by medical practitioners who then prescribe medicinal use of cannabis.

At our 2017 AGM NORML New Zealand Inc adopted the following policy goals:

  1. Patient focused: safe affordable access to botanical cannabis
  2. Immediate effect (not just a long-term development pathway)
  3. Domestic production: via licenced providers, including small scale providers (families & individuals)
  4. Self provision: choice to grow/make your own herbal remedy

What does this mean?

  1. Patient focused: safe affordable access to botanical cannabis. 
    Reforms must be meaningful. Putting the needs of patients first means a system where they are safe, legal, and can access natural (botanical) cannabis, not only pharma products. Affordability is a huge barrier for patient access. The current process is also complicated and confusing and needs to be simplified for both patients and prescribers.

    Why? Patients want safe, affordable, natural cannabis. 2. Affordability is a huge barrier for patient access. 3. Botanical cannabis should be available as well as pharmaceutical products. 4. Accessibility means making the process simple and easy for patients and prescribers. 5. Australia has taken an industry-focussed approach, that has not helped patients.

  2. Immediate effect (not just a long-term development pathway). 
    One in twenty New Zealanders now uses cannabis medicinally, according to the Ministry of Health. Many are severely ill with life threatening conditions. These patients will not be helped with a drawn out development pathway (as in Australia). Patients need an accelerated process that allows immediate access – perhaps an interim period so products can be brought to market, and/or an exemption for self-provision.

    Why? 1. Patients will not be helped with a far-flung development pathway (as in Australia) 2. One in twenty NZers now uses cannabis medicinally, according to the MOH.

  3. Domestic production via licenced providers
    Producing cannabis-based products domestically in New Zealand will bring down costs to patients (which are largely due to pharma-grade standards, regulatory requirements in other counties, strict import controls, and so on). Providers will be licensed, and will include small scale individual growers. (see 4. Self provision)

    Why? 1. domestic production would require research and clinical trials, proving safety – these must be fast tracked. 2. Domestic production would create jobs and potential export revenues. 3. Typical imported products are more expensive than illicit cannabis. Eg Sativex $1400/month. Changes so far have not brought these costs down. 4. Domestic production would increase the range of products available for patients. 5. Small scale providers including families and individuals are often non-profit and should have an easier pathway to being licensed, similar to driver’s license or firearms license.

  4. Self provision: choice to grow or make your own as a herbal remedy. 
    We think most people consider “legalise medical cannabis” to mean natural botanical cannabis including self-provision. Patients and doctors need choices, not just pharmaceutical products but also herbal remedies. This is what Helen Kelly wanted. Self provision means it can be cheap, quick, natural, and not from gangs.

    Why? 1. It’s what Helen Kelly wanted! 2. Home growing means cheap, fairly quick (3 months), natural, and not from gangs. 3. Unfettered ‘home growing’ is not politically feasible – we accept there will be rules & regulations, especially for medicinal cannabis. 4. Public support for a herbal remedy approach in our UMR poll (4 of every 5 supporters of a strict pharma approach also support a relaxed herbal remedy approach)

How you can help

Liaise with partner organisations to agree on key points.

Liaise with the political sphere to gain acceptance of our policy goals and the legislation needed.

Promote our key points through the media and social media (Facebook etc).

Join NORML or get involved with our projects.

Useful Websites

NORML – frequenty asked questions and key facts

MCANZ – the cost of cannabis

Green Party – cannabis policy

NZ Drug Foundation – model drug law