Support For Medical Cannabis In New Zealand Continues To Grow

Medicinal marijuana poll - New Zealand
Image: Wild0ne

New Zealanders opposed to legalising or decriminalising medical cannabis use are becoming increasingly in the minority according to a recent survey.

The latest poll carried out by The Drug Foundation found  89 percent of those surveyed believe medical cannabis should be legal or decriminalised for patients a terminal illness, up significantly on its 2017 survey (81%). 87 percent said it should be available for pain relief (78 percent in 2017).

“This sends a strong message to MPs considering the government’s medical cannabis bill which currently does not go far enough to improve access for a large group of patients,” said Ross Bell, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “The strong and growing support for access to medicinal cannabis is a signal to MPs that people expect change. There will be widespread disappointment if Parliament fails to listen.”

The poll was conducted from Monday 2 July to Tuesday 17 July 2018 with 943 people who agreed to participate.

In October last year, Jacinda Ardern’s government announced a 100-day commitment to introduce legislation to enable access to medicinal cannabis for people with a terminal illness or chronic pain. A related bill was introduced in December 2017, which passed its first reading in late January. It was then referred to the Health Committee, where it still remains.

The Bill introduces an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use cannabis, provides authority to enable the setting of standards to be met by products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence, and amends Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975; removing cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products from the controlled drugs list.

Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ (MCANZ) has argued that the Bill doesn’t go far enough. In February this year, MCANZ published a “plug and play” policy it wants to see adopted.

Currently, cannabis-based products are Class B1 controlled drugs and approval from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health is required before most can be prescribed, supplied or administered. As this page demonstrates, prescribing cannabis medicines in New Zealand is a convoluted process.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill can be viewed here.