More widespread access to medicinal cannabis products is a step closer with the release of proposals for regulations says Minister of Health Dr David Clark.
The Ministry of Health has published the proposed regulations and standards for medicinal cannabis, covering everything from cultivation to quality standards. Public consultation is open for four weeks.
“Making medicinal cannabis more readily available has the potential to help ease the suffering of thousands of people who are living in pain, so it’s important we get these regulations right,” Dr Clark says.
“The legislation Parliament passed in December paved the way for greater access to medicinal cannabis products and ultimately will allow New Zealand companies to manufacture quality medicinal cannabis products for local and international markets.
“This is another example of the progress the Coalition Government is making on enhancing the wellbeing of New Zealanders, while also boosting business opportunities.
“We’re now looking for feedback on whether the proposals in the consultation document meet our overall goal of improving patient access to quality medicinal cannabis products.
“We are also looking for views on how these products are prescribed, the quality standards for medicinal cannabis products, licensing for cultivators and manufacturers, barriers to patients accessing these medicines and several other proposals.
“I encourage the health sector, industry and the public to engage so the final regulations can be shaped by a wide range of perspectives,” says Dr Clark.
The regulations supporting the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme will be finalised by 18 December 2019 and the Ministry of Health anticipate having the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme operational in the first quarter of 2020.
The consultation proposal was informed by feedback from a medical cannabis advisory group that includes medical professionals and consumer and industry representatives. This group will continue to provide feedback as the medicinal cannabis scheme is developed.
How to have your say
The closing date for submissions is 5.00 pm, Wednesday 7 August 2019.
We suggest you start by reading the Short Guide to the Consultation Document (coming soon), which highlights the areas of interest for different audiences. Then read the sections of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme Public Consultation Document relevant to your interests:
You can then provide feedback by:
Your feedback is important because it will help shape the final proposals, ensuring they are workable and that the purpose of the legislation is achieved. We appreciate you taking the time to make a submission.
The Ministry of Health are also holding information sessions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and will be providing additional material for those who can’t attend.
If you have any questions, or want more information on the information sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website here: www.health.govt.nz/publication/medicinal-cannabis-scheme-consultation
Next steps after the consultation
The Ministry of Health will analyse the feedback and consult with the Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Group before providing advice to the Government on the outcomes of the consultation, including any proposed changes. The Ministry of Health will then seek approval from Cabinet on the regulatory proposals and work with the Parliamentary Counsel Office to draft the proposed Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations.
They are aiming to have the regulations made by 18 December 2019 and to have the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme operational in the first quarter of 2020.
Does legalising cannabis make it easier for teenagers to access the plant? The largest study to date suggests not – and it may even have the opposite effect.
In US states that have legalised recreational use of cannabis, fewer teenagers reported taking the plant after the laws were passed.
The world is in the middle of a global reappraisal of the legal status of cannabis. Many regions have legalised or at least decriminalised its possession or trade in some form, including Canada, Spain, Uruguay and many US states.
But critics argue that this might be particularly risky for teenagers, whose developing brains are thought to be more vulnerable to any harms.
Mark Anderson of Montana State University and colleagues looked at existing data from an ongoing anonymous survey of teenagers’ behaviour, which has been carried out every other year since the 1990s. They wanted to see if there were any trends in drug use linked with changes in the law.
The team got results from 27 states and Washington DC that have legalised its use for medical reasons and seven states that have legalised recreational use.
They found there was little difference after medical use was legalised, but after recreational use was permitted, those surveyed were about 8 per cent less likely to say they had used the plant ever in the past month, or to have used it ten times or more.
That might be because when cannabis has become legal, it starts being sold at licensed dispensaries that require proof of age, and these tend to displace criminal drug dealers. “Teens could just use fake IDs or have someone over 21 buy for them, but the point is that it is now more difficult than prior to the law being passed,” says Anderson.
“In certain places where cannabis is illegal, teenagers have reported it is easier to get than alcohol or tobacco because there are no age controls,” says Steve Rolles of Transform, a UK pro-legalisation think-tank.
Journal reference: JAMA Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1720
A Newshub-Reid Research Poll has revealed the majority of New Zealanders do not think recreational cannabis should be legalised.
It found that 48 percent of New Zealanders do not agree with legalising it, while 41.7 percent of people think it should be legalised, and 10.4 percent don't know.
The poll of 1000 people found that Green supporters were more in favour of legalising cannabis, while National supporters were less in favour.
The poll found that 76.9 percent of Green supporters were in favour, while just 14.5 percent opposed.
It's a stark contrast to just 25.3 percent of National supporters who want it legalised, while 67.6 percent were opposed.
The majority of Labour supporters want recreational cannabis legalised, with 50.4 percent in favour and 37.9 percent opposed.
That compares to 44.5 percent of New Zealand First supporters in favour, while 45.3 percent were opposed.
Green supporters and National supporters were more certain about their position, with just 8.6 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, saying they didn't know.
That compares to 11.7 percent of Labour supporters and 10.2 percent of New Zealand First supporters who said they didn't know.
The Government announced last month that New Zealanders will vote on legislation to legalise recreational cannabis at the 2020 election.
The draft legislation will include a minimum age of 20, regulations and commercial supply controls, limited home-growing options, and a public education programme.
According to the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, New Zealanders now want cannabis to remain illegal.
The public has a chance to vote on whether cannabis should be legalised in a referendum alongside the 2020 general election, however the latest poll showed 52 per cent of New Zealanders intend to vote against legalisation.
Of those asked in the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, 39 per cent wanted cannabis legalised, eight per cent did not know or refused to answer and 1 per cent say they would not vote.
The groups of people who were more likely to be for the legalisation of cannabis included Green Party supporters and people aged 18-34.
Those who were more likely to intend to vote against the legalisation of cannabis were people aged 55 and over and National Party supporters.
Drug Foundation spokesperson Ross Bell said there was "a whole lot of myth and misinformation, scaremongering being run over the last few months, which I think has influenced New Zealand's thinking on this".
"I think the Government has tied its own hands, saying this is a referendum for the public and this is not Government policy, which means there is a big vacuum that's been created and currently filled with misinformation."
Mr Bell said once the public receives more information, he expected legalisation would pass at the referendum.
National's Paula Bennett told 1 NEWS she was not surprised at the poll result and felt the public were expressing their concerns as they come to understand what legalisation meant.
She also said legalisation of cannabis did not align with the country's 2025 smoke free-goals.
Green Party drug reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said most New Zealanders had seen the harm cannabis causes "under status quo prohibition".
"This is why we need to develop legal regulation that reduces that harm, which is the conversation I'm focused on having with Kiwis."
Justice Minister Andrew Little released details of the 2020 cannabis legalisation referendum last month, which would include a simple yes/no option for voters.
Mr Little confirmed that the referendum will be based on proposed legislation so that people will be able to see what they are voting for.
In the October 2018 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, the results were slightly more in favour of legalisation than against, with nearly half wanting the drug to be legal. Forty-six per cent of Kiwis were in favour of legalisation and 41 per cent were against, 12 per cent were undecided.
In the July, 2017, 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, 47 per cent were in favour of cannabis legalisation, 41 per cent were opposed and 12 per cent did not know.
The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll comes after details of the cannabis referendum Cabinet paper was leaked by National and questions were raised over drug driving tests ahead of the referendum. More than $13 million was also put towards the cannabis legalisation referendum in Budget 2019, "to engage and communication with the public on participation in the participation in the referendum process".
Between June 4 and 8, 1002 eligible voters were polled via landline and mobile phone. The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.
In the latest poll, eligible voters were asked, 'A referendum on the legislation of cannabis will be held at the 2020 General Election. Possible new laws would allow people aged 20 and over to purchase cannabis for recreational use. The laws would also control the sale and supply of cannabis. At this stage, do you think you will vote for cannabis to be legalised, or for cannabis to remain illegal?'
A Queenstown man caught with illegal substances in his house has avoided a conviction because they help him deal with chronic pain.
He also escaped conviction for having a military-style semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine.
The man, who appeared in the Queenstown District Court last month, was granted permanent name suppression.
Police smelled cannabis when they went to his home on an unrelated matter on June 22 last year.
A search uncovered an AR15 rifle in a carry bag on his bed, 372g of cannabis in his bedroom and bathroom, 0.1g of MDMA on his dressing table and 0.1g of methamphetamine in his wallet.
A pipe for smoking cannabis was on his bedside table, and a "snuff bullet'' for sniffing cocaine was on the dressing table.
The defendant's counsel, Bill Dawkins, said his client suffered from "massive pain'' as a result of twice breaking his neck.
He took about 1200 painkillers a month to deal with his pain, but they were "not doing it''.
He was a heavy user of cannabis for "medicinal purposes'', but the other drugs in the house were "odds and sods'' left behind by visitors.
The defendant had bought the AR15 legally with his category A firearms licence, Mr Dawkins said. But he later bought the 30-round magazine on the internet, unaware it made the rifle illegal for that licence category.
Although "ignorance of the law excuses no-one'', it was a mitigating factor.
Judge John Brandts-Giesen said he had decided "by a narrow margin'' to grant a discharge without conviction on the grounds the consequences of a conviction would outweigh the seriousness of the offending.
The possession of the AR15 was the most serious charge, but the defendant's explanation was at least partly accepted by the police prosecutor.
He had used it for hunting and to put down deer on a farm, and, like many people, had exploited a "well-known gap in the law'' to pair it with a high-capacity magazine.
In relation to the drugs, an anaesthetist's report stated the defendant was "far better'' when regularly using cannabis, and a legal cannabis substitute was very expensive.
It had been "unwise'' of him to keep the other drugs, which had been given to him by a visitor.
The defendant was "overcoming great odds in order to work'' but by possessing illegal drugs faced the risk of being convicted in the future.
"Section 106 discharges are not given liberally to people, particularly not in a case of reoffending.''
He ordered the destruction of the firearm and the drugs.
The defendant's arrest preceded recent law changes, resulting from the Christchurch mosque shootings in March, which ban military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Late last year the Government relaxed laws around the use of medicinal cannabis but new research suggests tens of thousands of New Zealanders are still getting hold of it illegally.
In the first ever online survey into the medical use of the drug, patients say they're frustrated, or feel they can't talk to their doctor about using it.
Shane Le Brun from Medicinal Cannabis Awareness NZ wanted to know what people were using it for.
"One of the things that's really struck me is the number of indications, so medical conditions that people have identified using cannabis for, we're talking probably two dozen," he told 1 NEWS.
Among the early findings are that more than a third of users don't tell their GP they're using the drug and almost 60 per cent of respondents are female.
Cannabis user Shaun Shale wants to see fewer restrictions around prescribing and a regulated market, which would take away several risks such as the drug's strength.
"One of the responses I had from my specialist at the hospital was, 'oh so you're smoking pot and it was in a very derogatory manner,"
The survey runs until the end of July when MPs will be invited to view the research.