Aaron Ironside is the new spokesperson for the "Say Nope To Dope" anti-cannabis campaign.
Aaron Ironside rose to prominence in the 1990’s as the anchor of Radio Hauraki’s popular Morning Pirates breakfast show. The young rock DJ fully embraced the Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll lifestyle that accompanied his new-found fame. Aaron say's that he quickly turned his occasional cannabis use into a daily habit that consumed his life. In time, he realised that his addiction was now affecting his mental health, exacerbating his symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In 1998, Aaron quit the high-profile job and decided to deal with his addiction. Once clean he began working in the Not-For-Profit sector, putting his Masters Degree in Psychology to work. In 2012 he started A.I. Counselling and Coaching helping hundreds of clients find freedom from many different types of addiction and substance abuse.
Aside from his personal experience with cannabis, Aaron has witnessed the devastation the plant causes to vulnerable families during his work with a community group in Manurewa. The systemic damage that addiction creates was clearly seen in the poverty, crime and mental health outcomes for the Maori and Pasifika families who engaged with the organisation.
Although himself drug-free (apart from alcohol) for over 20 years, he says some of his extended family members continue to struggle with the grip cannabis has over their lives. Aaron is passionate about protecting them from further harm, and helping New Zealand pursue programs and legislation that will benefit all sectors of society.
The Say Nope to Dope campaign say they are a group of concerned organisations and individuals who oppose any attempt to decriminalise or legalise cannabis, despite many members including their own spokesperson who continue to consume the toxic drug alcohol. The group will be officially launched in the coming weeks.
The complete and final version of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill that will be voted on in one of two referendums at this year’s General Election was released today by Justice Minister Andrew Little.
Publication of the exposure draft Bill on referendums.govt.nz follows the release of an interim version of the Bill in December last year and is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring the voting public have ample opportunity to be informed ahead of this year’s referendums.
“It is important that all eligible voters have the opportunity to be informed about the upcoming referendums. The Government is committed to providing impartial, unbiased information on the referendums and its process,” Andrew Little said.
The exposure draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been updated and includes details about:
No further updates of the Bill will be made before the referendum.
The wording of the cannabis referendum question has also been confirmed as a straight Yes/No question:
Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
Further information on each the referendum, including downloadable fact sheets translated into multiple languages and a range of accessible resources will be made available at www.referendums.govt.nz in the near future.
Explanatory material on the referendum, will also be included in the Electoral Commission’s enrollment update and EasyVote card mail-outs to voters in the lead-up to this year’s election.
“It is important that the public feel they can meaningfully participate in the referendum. To do so, the public need to be able to access factual and impartial information.
“The referendum is a commitment in the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement,” Andrew Little said.
New Zealanders will be voting for their electorate candidate, their favourite political party, and also deciding if they would like to legalise euthanasia and recreational cannabis.
This year's general election will be held on a Saturday, the same as 2017 when the general election was held on September 23.
"We will be asking for a further term to get the job done," the Prime Minister said at her post-Cabinet press conference on Tuesday, after confirming the date.
New Zealand operates under a mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system. In 2017, 71 members were elected from single-member electorates and 49 members were elected from closed party lists.
In September last year, it was announced there will be a new electorate at the 2020 general election resulting in one fewer list seats in Parliament than at the 2017 election.
The 2017 election saw five political parties return to Parliament - National, Labour, New Zealand First, the Greens and ACT - down from seven parties in 2014.
One of those parties that didn't make it back to Parliament was the Māori Party, and it's rumoured they are gearing up for a return to Parliament in 2020.
After the 2017 election, even with support partner ACT, the National Party were short of the 61 seats needed to govern following the 2017 general election results.
It needed New Zealand First's nine seats to govern, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters decided to give his seats to Labour and form a coalition, with the Greens as Labour's confidence and supply partner.
The election resulted in Labour leader Jacinda Ardern becoming New Zealand's third female Prime Minister, and Peters taking on the Deputy Prime Minister role for a second time.
Wellington cannabis social club the Daktory was raided by police on Thursday afternoon after a search warrant was conducted.
In a statement, police said a 69-year-old man was arrested and is due to appear in court on Friday on a charge of breaching bail and other charges yet to be confirmed.
The Daktory confirmed the man in custody is club founder Dakta Green.
The raid occurred the day after the Government announced its medicinal cannabis regulations, which the Daktory said was a day celebrated by cannabis users.
"[After] the new regulations are released to the public, a prepared warrant is executed by the NZ Police at the 5pm opening of The Daktory club," it said in a statement.
The Government confirmed there will be a licencing regime for the cultivation, manufacturing and supply of medicinal cannabis products among its regulations, which will come into effect on April 1, 2020.
The statement from the Daktory says there will be a support rally outside Wellington District Court on Friday for Green, consisting of club members and members of the public.
"Dakta has created a peaceful environment for our community members to be. He has sat with and comforted those who face their own mortality because of illness and disease."
The club called it a "dark evening" on an otherwise celebrated day.
"People are still being actively arrested for cannabis charges, despite its imminent transition in three months' time," the Daktory said.
"NZ Police need to stop arresting our people who are causing no harm. With the change of regulation a mere three months away, maybe it's time to stop focusing on cannabis as a dangerous drug and focus on the real issues our community is facing."
The Daktory was previously raided in August when it was located at its previous Wellington address on Hania St, and two men were arrested. At the time, police seized cannabis, cash and equipment for growing cannabis.
The club then relocated to the historic Temperance Hotel on Cambridge Terrace in November.
Green has owned and operated the Daktory since it first opened in Auckland in 2012. That location was also raided and shut down.
Minister of Health Dr David Clark says new regulations will allow local cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products that will potentially help ease the pain of thousands of people.
Today's regulations, which come into effect on 1 April 2020, set out the quality and licensing requirements for manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis.
“Many New Zealanders will have watched a loved one struggle with chronic pain, particular near the end of their lives. Medicinal cannabis products can make a real difference to people’s quality of life,” Dr Clark said.
“Over time this Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme will help people ease their suffering by making a wider range of quality medicinal cannabis products available.
“There is huge international interest in the potential of medicinal cannabis. These regulations mean New Zealand companies will be well placed to manufacture for both the local and international market.
“There is already considerable expertise in this area with 20 companies currently licensed to grow cannabis for research purposes and another 238 growing industrial hemp. It’s expected that at least some of these companies will apply for licences for medicinal cannabis,” Dr Clark said.
The first medicinal cannabis licences are expected to be issued by mid-2020.
In other countries locally grown product has taken over two years to come on the market. It’s expected locally grown product could be available sooner than this in New Zealand, partly due to the research underway already in New Zealand under existing licences.
“People with prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products can currently fill prescriptions with products sourced from overseas, which are often costly,” Dr Clark said.
“I’m confident increased competition from local manufacturers will drive prices down over time.
“However, sadly we know some people won’t be able to wait for domestic manufacturers to begin production.
“So as a compassionate measure, people eligible to receive palliation will continue to be exempt from prosecution for illicit cannabis. That will be reviewed once the Scheme has been in operation and more quality products become available.
"These regulations put in place the infrastructure that allows us to locally grow, manufacture and provide quality medicinal cannabis products that are intended to make a real difference to people living in pain and also those nearing the end of their lives,” Dr Clark said.
Five things you need to know:
NOTE: The regulations are available here: health.govt.nz/MedicinalCannabisScheme
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme will enable domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis. The Scheme will include a licencing regime for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use, and the manufacture and supply of medicinal cannabis products.
A medicinal cannabis agency, within the Ministry of Health, is being established to oversee the Scheme. The Agency will provide guidance on the Scheme for health practitioners, industry, and consumers.
The Scheme includes appropriate restrictions to ensure cannabis is grown under appropriate security, and batch testing of products to limit contamination, test shelf life, and accurately identify the level of active ingredients.
As for all unapproved medicines, advertising of medicinal cannabis products isn’t permitted and a cost recovery scheme will be in place to cover the costs of administering the licensing and regulatory side of the scheme.
There has been a significant level of consultation and advice sought from those already interested in the scheme and as a result there has already been a significant reduction in the licensing costs to those initially proposed by the Ministry of Health.
The medicinal cannabis products permitted under the scheme include dried products, a variety of tablets and liquids but do not allow products able to be smoked.
All medicinal cannabis products need to be prescribed by a medical practitioner and obtained directly from the medical practitioner or from a pharmacy.
The standards will apply to both imported and locally produced products and will allow people to be confident they’re receiving quality products.
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is being established to meet the Government’s commitment to increase access to medicinal cannabis products.
Under the Scheme, medicinal cannabis products will only be available as prescription medicines, prescribed by a medical practitioner. This includes both cannabidiol (CBD) products and products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
The Ministry is currently working on the regulations required to support the Scheme. The regulations will include:
Compliance with quality standards will give medical practitioners, as well as consumers and potential export markets, confidence that the medicinal cannabis products contain, for example, consistent amounts of specified ingredients, and have limits on contaminants such as pesticides or mould.
The regulations that set the minimum quality standards will be made by 18 December 2019 and the Scheme will commence in the first quarter of 2020. Medicinal cannabis products will be required to meet the quality standards once the Scheme commences. Medicinal cannabis products which are available now will also be required to meet the quality standards, but there will be a transition period after commencement for such products to be submitted to the Ministry for assessment.
Most medicinal cannabis products available under the Scheme are likely to be ‘unapproved’ products. These products cannot be advertised but the Ministry will make available to prescribers a list of unapproved medicinal cannabis products that meet the quality standards. This list will be available after the Scheme commences, and once products have been assessed.
For more information about the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, see the Ministry of Health website.