NORML is pleased to note that the conservative group Family First is calling for reforms to our outdated policies around medicinal cannabis. In their recent press release, Family First says they are now calling for:

the expansion of research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms. (Supported by NZMA)

the establishment of an emergency or research program that allows seriously ill patients to obtain non-smoked components of marijuana before final Ministry of Health approval.

the Government instruct the Ministry of Health to update the prescribing guidelines for pharmaceutically based THC derivative medicines to include Sativex as a medicine under the Medicines Act 1981 and to continue to make pharmaceutically based THC derivative medicines available to treat serious medical conditions when traditional methods have failed.

However, the call for ‘more research’ is blocking access for those who need it now, says Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for NORML NZ (National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

“With over 20,000 published studies, cannabis is one of the most researched plants in the world. There are more published studies on cannabis than most FDA-approved drugs, and Mr Dunne is now requiring higher standards for medicinal cannabis than for legal highs,” said Mr Fowlie.

“Medicinal use of cannabis is known to help with the symptoms of both everyday minor ailments as well as serious conditions including HIV, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer and nausea, IBS, Crohn’s and other gastrointestinal disorders, epilepsy and seizures, glaucoma, hepatitis C, migraines, multiple sclerosis, pain, Tourette’s, improving the quality of life of the terminally ill, and even for sick pets. The US Government even holds a patent for medicinal cannabinoids.”

Safe legal physician-supervised access to medicinal cannabis is supported by many organisations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Public Health Association, British Medical Association, the Epilepsy Foundation, The Lymphoma Foundation of America, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Union of Reform Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

While welcoming the new found support for medicinal cannabis law reform from Family First, we were dismayed to read quotes they have attributed to NORML. In their press release, Family First falsely claim that US NORML founder Keith Stroup had said in a debate in 1973 that NORML was using the medical use issue as a “red herring for legalization.” Mr Stroup responded to this in 2001:

That is obviously a lie, and it suggests how desperate these drug warriors have become… At NORML we believe it is unconscionable to continue to deny an effective medication to the seriously ill and dying, in order to advance a political agenda. That is precisely what our opponents are doing.

“Certainly, this ‘red herring’ did not come from NORML NZ and it’s disingenuous and misleading to imply it did,” said Mr Fowlie. “The fact is, rather than being a cunning ruse to legalise all uses of cannabis, regulating medical cannabis would reduce the worst aspects of our failed War on Drugs. Of all the injustices committed in the name of protecting illicit drug consumers, perhaps the worst is arresting and jailing those who use or provide cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

“Sick people and their caregivers need compassion, not punishment.”