Instead of wasting time and money on years of pharmaceutical-level testing, NORML says we should follow the Australian approach, treat it as a herbal remedy, and immediately allow compassionate access.

A TVNZ poll last weekend showed an increase in support for medicinal cannabis, and Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne said if medicinal cannabis is effective, he will back it:

“If those products are shown as a result of the normal testing programme to be fit for purpose then we will permit them to be made available in New Zealand”

The conservative group Family First has also called for changes to our policies around medicinal cannabis, but wants to wait for more research.

“The delaying tactic of ‘more research’ is blocking access for those who need it now,” said 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.”

“Medicinal use of cannabis is known to help with the symptoms of both everyday minor ailments such as back pain and nausea as well as serious conditions including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, IBS, Crohn’s and other gastrointestinal disorders, epilepsy and seizures, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, migraines, multiple sclerosis, pain, Tourette’s, improving the quality of life of the terminally ill, and also 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.

“New Zealand patients and caregivers need safe legal access to medicinal cannabis now, including both refined preparations such as Sativex, and whole herb cannabis medicines such as Bedrocan, as well as the myriad cannabis salves and tinctures available in the USA,” said Mr Fowlie.

“While Sativex has passed the usual pharmaceutical tests and is available to a limited number of patients here, clinical trials and published studies have shown whole cannabis herb to often be more effective, and it should be available as an option for those in need.”

AustraliaCanada23 US states and multiple European and South American countries have recognised that the decades of clinical testing required for novel pharmaceuticals is not needed for medicinal cannabis, because it is a traditional herbal remedy with the remarkable record of thousands of years of therapeutic use and not one death.”

In the USA, NORML took the government to court to force it to think rationally about medicinal cannabis. The DEA’s Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled in 1988 that:

“Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.”

“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,” said Mr Fowlie. “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.”