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Strong Support For Medical Cannabis In New Zealand

A recent survey suggests a large majority of New Zealand’s citizens support medicinal marijuana.

According to a poll carried out by research company UMR of 1,750 people between January and February, 72 percent of respondents stated they would support a medical marijuana regime. 15 percent weren’t sure and just 13 percent opposed the idea. The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 3 percent.

UMR said it was surprised that the poll had such a decisive outcome.

“I would guess that people would just see it as an utter no-brainer, that if people were in considerable pain or worse and marijuana can provide some relief then they should be allowed to use it,” stated UMR executive director Stephen Mills. ” I think it’s just a straight, sympathetic human response to the situation.”

Mr. Mills said the result was similar across all demographics, even among  those segments where opposition may have been more likely.

Radio New Zealand also carried out its own poll – albeit very limited and informal – and found similar levels of support in the community; although some expressed concern about the possibility of abuse.

That medical cannabis elicits somewhat of a fear response is no surprise. Marijuana has been associated with recreational use and abuse for so long.

What many people holding these fears are yet to realise is some medical marijuana based products have zero recreational attraction as they don’t contain the intoxicating compound THC. Instead, cannabidiol (CBD) is their primary component – a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. Cannabidiol can also be extracted from marijuana’s low-THC cousin – industrial hemp.

The medicinal marijuana debate is certainly gaining steam in New Zealand and related issues have made headlines around the world on a few occasions recently.

In October last year, a Crohn’s Disease sufferer who used cannabis to relieve symptoms was convicted in a New Zealand court; but received a lighter sentence than what could have been handed down from what appeared to be a sympathetic judge.

Earlier this month, a New Zealand woman escaped conviction relating to various criminal charges over the importation and possession of medical cannabis products. That case highlighted a loophole in New Zealand law allowing the importation of medicinal marijuana under certain conditions.

New Zealand’s government appears to be warming to the idea of cannabis medicines and are likely to follow Australia’s lead on regulations.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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