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Cannabis Trials Useful

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Apr. 4, 00
The Press Online
Cannabis Trials Useful - Trials are being conducted in Britain and the U.S. If overseas trials find cannabis has therapeutic benefits, the Government would consider allowing its use for medical purposes, Health Minister Annette King says.
Trials are being conducted in Britain and the United States to determine whether cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of conditions including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and glaucoma. "Where I would come from is that these particular trials are going to be very useful for us in any decision we make," Ms King said. Evidence currently available was largely anecdotal, but if the trials came up with scientific proof, the Government would have to look at whether it should allow medical use of cannabis, she said. "People say that it is useful, particularly for MS sufferers, and the history of it as a leaf was that it was used to relax women in childbirth 100 years ago - it has certainly been put to therapeutic use in the past." If the trials found medical benefits of the drug, it could potentially become available by prescription by specialists here, Ms King said. There appeared to be a double standard where medical use of opiates was acceptable under the law, but similar use of cannabis was not, Ms King said. She said therapeutic use of cannabis was not part of the review of the legal status cannabis currently being undertaken by health officials, because she saw it as a separate issue.
Health Ministry spokesman Matthew Allen said that under the Misuse of Drugs Act, New Zealanders could apply to the ministry to be permitted to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes. People made such applications "periodically", but without clinical trials to back their claims the ministry was not prepared to permit use of cannabis, he said.

New Zealand News from The Press - Tuesday, April 04, 2000