Russell thank you for this "as usual" excellent summation of an important event / set of issues. I agree generally with your summation of Nick Russell's comment; the MoH's obsession with a pharmaceutical model is throttling the nascent development of the availability of medicinal cannabis and the associated regulations, strategies, structures, scheme etc. However, I also hear what Nick is saying re the PSA analogy, in as much as the Ministry has created a framework that simultaneously allows med can and undermines the possibility of its growth or availability. This MUST be challenged and I certainly wouldn't agree with Steven Crawford's defence of Andrew Little. Between Little and Clarke, when it comes to cannabis policy we've had two unimaginative and ineffectual ministers; effectively useless. Given that the drug policy portfolio has historically been the preserve of an Associate Min of Health, surely it's time to push this important work to one of these? Dr Ayesha Verrall, for example, has a background in a broadly public health area; given the inequities Māori suffer at the hands of drug policy, particularly that relating to cannabis, how's about Peeni Henare? And there's also Aupito Sio, though there's a real conservatism within Pacifika. Anyhoo, there are alternatives to Little, though whether these have the intestinal fortitude to grasp the nettle of real reform remains to be seen.
Well frankly I’m not surprised at the Ministry’s response, though I am still confused about their reasons. A couple of years ago I attended a health select committee hearing regarding medicinal cannabis, on behalf of an excellent submission by William Rae, in my capacity as a cannabis researcher.
Prior to attending this committee hearing I contacted the relevant official in the Ministry and spent some time discussing Mr Rae’s submission and the approach I would be taking on his behalf. At that time I felt there was a sense of mutual agreement about how meeting might proceed, i.e. in the context of a positive and rational approach to this issue.
Upon attending the hearing and sitting next to the official I’d spent an hour discussing matters with, I was amazed at the Ministry’s opposition to almost everything we had discussed and to the official’s complete ignoring even of my presence.
I was left with the sense that the Ministry has a particular view of medicinal cannabis, which is most likely mediated by officials’ understandings of how the current government would not welcome any advice that would run contrary to their stated position: pretty much what former minister SimonPower said. This leaves me feeling terribly sad for people in the position of Ms Kelly, and more than a little angry. The Ministry’s approach is, in my view, an abuse of power, and the more strongly they are called on it the better.
FYI regarding Sativex, IMHO it is potentially unsuitable for some pain relief issues and also nausea, as it is relatively slow acting. This has been noted in the UK, where a GP supported his patient to import raw cannabis instead. See: