Sick People Risk Arrest Over Cannabis Laws


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Doctors and Labour Party agree sick patients should be arrested

For the many sick people who are desperate enough to risk expensively - and often dangerously - engaging with the NZ cannabis black market, in order to obtain the most effective medicine for their condition, there are no valentines this year.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Ministry of Health very quietly acknowledged last October that there is "sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy of cannabis in some medical conditions." However, the next day political expedience raised its ugly head when PM Helen Clark, perhaps concerned about a grip on power that depends on support from prohibitionists Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton, denied that a law change for medicinal cannabis users might happen any time soon.

Instead of engaging with the huge black market some Kiwi medpot users risk home, income and peace of mind to grow their own cannabis, instead of using relatively cheap and easily accessible pharmaceutically supplied medications. This is simply because cannabis works for them in ways that the highly addictive and potentially lethal prescription medicines do not. Many of those legal drugs have very nasty side effects. They cause hangovers as though users had been up partying all night. But they haven't been enjoying a party at all. Being in constant pain and discomfort is no fun.

A few doctors understand and privately acknowledge the efficacy of cannabis but have been unwilling to jump through all the very many hoops that the politicians and Ministry of Health have set up to thwart medpot users accessing cannabis legally. The red tape process is so involved it is like saying NO. The often touted medical exemption is a 'claytonâ€s' exemption because although medicinal users are guaranteed access to cannabis under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and nominally allowed here by the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act, our politicians and bureaucrats feel they must continue to save face at the expense of sick people.

This is cruel and inhumane treatment. Our Human Rights Act states clearly that it is illegal to deprive someone of their medicine. Even some of our judiciary are ahead of the game. Increasingly in recent years there has been a recognition in judgements that some court defendants are using for genuine medical reasons and penalties have been at the lower end of the scale. Police also do occasionally use their discretionary powers and dispose of cannabis plant material instead of charging people with possessing it.

It has been clear to the ALCP that large pharmaceutical corporations have been trying for years to make patentable medicines from cannabis. This is because cannabis is an amazing plant. But its impossible to slap a patent on a plant in order to make legal drug money from it, so they must painstakingly separate out each chemical from the plant, and find a particular illness that might be effectively treated with it. At great length and cost. If finally permitted into the country sometime in the distant future will these drugs be expensive and subsidised by Pharmac Yes, you the Kiwi taxpayer will be responsible for paying.

It is also worth pointing out that only a tiny fraction of this extensive corporate research has been reported on by NZ media and as a result the general public are blissfully unaware of how effective cannabis is as a medicine. Unofficial conservative estimates of how many thousand Kiwi patients would benefit from medpot use range from 10,000-20,000. It is likely to be much higher.

Don't anyone be fooled either by the pernicious argument that smoking is the only way to obtain benefits from the plant. There are other devices and delivery methods already in common use here, including vapourisers and food products. This is a red herring.

So why should medpot users wait years while pharmaceutical corporations and politicians conduct more trials Although in recent years there has been increasing moves toward medicalising every aspect of our lives this actually denies increasing recognition and evidence that people managing their own health are far more likely to have a sense of wellbeing.

Why are brave outlaw organisations such as the ALCP, NORML NZ and Green Cross the only ones with the nerve to raise the issue The Ministry of Health has high staff turnover, doctors are beholden to pharmaceutical companies, police perf out of the justice system, judges have their hands tied by misinformed public confusion. Everywhere else the mantra seems to be 'just say . . . nothing.' This is outrageous, and far from compassionate.

Yes it is a politically contentious issue, and public ignorance has the largest part to play. The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party have been told many times by police and other powers that be that until they hear it 'from the community' there is little chance that cannabis use will be tolerated.

But we say it is about time our system and politicians and doctors in particular - stops causing the arrests of sick people who genuinely use cannabis for their conditions. The fact that the 'known' medicinal uses are slowly increasing and research is showing that it can help treat many conditions is reason why immediate regulation in NZ should proceed. In addition, the safety of the current law prohibiting cannabis has yet to be demonstrated. The failure and unintended consequences of prohibition - the worse being the abuse of patients deserves public scrutiny and derision.

There is no credible reason for delay.

Source: Scoop Independent News (NZ)
Author: Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Website: Scoop - New Zealand News
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