And "Reeferendum" gets a vote from me too please. I like how implies an end to reefer madness (a stretch, but I live in hope)
Thanks for getting clarification here that controlled drugs such as cannabis might be part of a PSA-like law, rather than the PSA itself, which is currently fatally flawed (in part due to themselves!). The major issue for me is that the PSA takes a medicines approach which is not warranted (as the substances are not trying to cure a disease or treat a condition), and especially for natural plants and herbs. It's one thing to demand pharmaceutical-level tests for novel chemicals - and of course Jessamine and Medsafe would insist on this, it's what they do - but there are other approaches for plant-based drugs that could treat safety issues more like foods or, duh, herbs. The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill comes to mind.
You probably thought the Greens already wanted to free the weed, right? Not lately. The current policy offers only to prioritise enforcement elsewhere and (as a “long term goal”)
The old policy said this under Medium Term Steps:
Introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use.
Define in law the limits on growing cannabis for personal use.
Despite calling for adult use and cultivation to be made legal, the old policy (which I helped Nandor write back in 1999) was deliberately conservative. I agree the latest version is pretty good but it still seems conservative given the polls and what's been happening overseas. I wish they had taken a position on what form the markets should take for adult use. Surely we're at the point when we can debate the merits of cannabis clubs or dispensaries compared to govt grown etc. Canada's approach looks set to hand the entire market to a few large corporations with no right to grow your own.
"I thought it might be"? I said this last week, when I told you CBD is not a tetrahydrocannabinol and therefore not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act's definition of a cannabis preparation. While CBD is in the Medicines Act, that only covers therapeutic use, not non-therapeutic use. I have written to the Ministry of Health seeking their confirmation this is the case.
Might be being picky but all plant derived cannabinoids are "phytocannabinoids", including naturally occurring THC, CBD, and approx 100 others. CBD can also be made synthetically, or isomerised from other cannabinoids - just like THC can too - in which case it would not be a "phytocannabinoid" (that term refers to it's origin, not it's structural classification).
A word of caution regarding that 1997 case study that purports to claim eating hemp seed oil can result in a positive drug test. The allegation is often used by Police and Customs here and in Australia to block the sale of hemp foods, which in turn keeps the hemp industry very small here. I wrote about this last year:
"the hemp industry in the US has already addressed this concern, commissioning comprehensive research that showed hemp seed foods do not produce positive drug test results. New Zealand’s ESR also has conducted research. They obtained hemp seed oil products from The Hempstore, including our hemp lollipops, and fed them to test subjects who produced no positive results..."
Nitpicking over, it is bloody good progress we're making lately...! NORML started a "whispering campaign" three years ago, putting good ideas into the minds of the right people (as opposed to putting ourselves out front and centre, and possibly alienating some people with our radicalness), and while we can't take all the credit it seems to be bearing fruit. Finally. Cue smile emoticons.
Andrew, why do you think it has to be "on your person (but not by mail"?
I understood Sue Grey argued that for the purposes of the Act they were one and the same.
Thanks for having me on Russell!
I'd say "lawfully obtained" is the key, as this is what the Misuse of Drugs Act actually says, even if MOH officials wish it doesn't. Alternatively patients can avoid international travel by having their lawfully obtained medicinal cannabis mailed to them, like Rebecca Reider. I'd advise having a copy of any prescription enclosed with it, to avoid confusion. There are some doctors who do consultations over the internet but you'd still need to qualify under their local state law (eg California says you must be a US citizen or resident, whereas Colorado does not). We have some more info on the Norml NZ website.
Re Sativex - I'm told some patients go through a vial in as little as 3 days, it depends on their individual need, tolerance for pain etc. Others may last a month. A few may qualify for ACC coverage but most will not. Pharmac can also be approached to fund either individual patients on a case-by-case basis, or a class of patients (eg everyone who has X). Pharmac could be directed by the government to do this.
Re chances for raw cannabis: Like the travel exemption, the mechanism to approve the use of non-pharmaceutical grade products is no "loophole". It was deliberately included when the law was written in 1975 so there must have been a presumption it would be used. Raw cannabis is available in 26 of the US states, and just a few years ago that would have seemed very remote. Bedrocan is pharmaceutical grade raw cannabis that is available in almost all of the EU. It now comes in 5 strains with different, standardised, cannabinoid levels. It would qualify under the 2nd mechanism described here. If anyone wants to give it a go, please contact me.
... as in, "pssst, want some synnies?"
Shay walker wrote:
My problem is with the way in which you have presented your argument - painting a picture of cannabis as a benign drug by constantly comparing it to alcohol and tobacco.
Shay I realise you support decriminalisation (or legalisation) and you are just applying some constructive criticism to Stephen's arguments, which is welcome.
However this comment is misrepresenting what Stephen wrote. Cannabis is not a benign drug and NORML does not go around saying this. Stephen's pointed out the relative safety and effects of consuming cannabis compared to alcohol and tobacco. That is not to say that it is harmless, which is what you seem to think NORML is saying.
Regarding your rejection of Amsterdam: why should we dismiss anything learned there simply because it is another country? Why not apply some of what works here? We are not saying let's replicate their policy with no changes at all for New Zealand. Having said that, it is clear what has worked in the Netherlands:
* separating the sale of cannabis from the supply of hard drugs has resulted in the lowest heroin use rate in Europe. Rates of opiate addiction have fallen every year since coffeeshops were officially tolerated in 1976. [compare to New Zealand, where tinnie shops were used to create demand for, and facilitate the distribution of, methamphetamine]
* enforcing a legal age limit of 18 years to purchase cannabis has made it a lot more difficult for them to access compared to here. I have visited Amsterdam many times and have yet to see a teenager even appear interested in the coffeeshops, let alone set foot inside one.
* banning the advertising of cannabis is very effective in not creating new users. Dutch coffeeshops are not allowed to call themselves cannabis cafes or display any weed leaves on the exterior of the building. Meanwhile, we have alcohol pushed on us all every time we turn on the tv or open a magazine.
* not arresting drug users has made access to education and treatment much easier: not only are there far more resources (it is very expensive to imprison even a non-violent drug user), but users are way more likely to sign up to treatment, or believe education messages when they are not being persecuted by police. Surveys here show the No.1 reason for not seeking treatment is a fear of the law.
* one of the main rules the coffeeshops must operate within is "no overlaast", meaning no nuisance. They cannot be noisy, generate any litter or graffiti, or create any other disturbances or else their license may be taken away. This rule keeps them all acting very responsibly - imagine if all pubs in New Zealand had to operate this way!
* a big lesson from the Dutch is that organised crime is still somewhat involved, because they only legalised the front end retail sale and not the cultivation or wholesale supply to the shops. So all coffeeshops must break the law and illegally purchase their cannabis from organised crime (including smugglers) or must organise their own grow operations (also illegal). Because it is not properly legalised the Dutch do not collect any excise taxes on cannabis sales.
With the Law Commission finally reviewing the long-outdated Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, New Zealand has an opportunity to learn from our failed experiment with cannabis prohibition, take the best of what has worked overseas, and come up with a new drug policy that leads the world. With new governments here and in the White House, there has never been a better time.