Medicinal Marijuana Must Be Based on Research

Media Release 19 December 2017
Family First NZ says that any legislation on medicinal marijuana should be based on legitimate and responsible scientific research on the potential benefits and risk of medical cannabis, but that the government should reject any association with the Green’s private members bill which is effectively a ‘grow your own dope’ option. Family First has also released a Briefing Paper on the issue.

“We support a cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But the Green’s private members bill fails the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the Government is right to steer clear of it. No other medicine is lit up and inhaled as proposed by the Green’s bill. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

In a recent article in the Journal of the NZ Medical Association, the authors – both addiction psychiatrists – said that the discussion between the legal framework of cannabis and the medicinal framework of cannabinoids should be kept separate to prevent the ‘decriminalisation’ of cannabis via a medical route, and that “the use of medicinal cannabinoids needs a dialogue that clearly differentiates it from the dialogue about the legal status of cannabis.” They recommended relabelling the discussion as being about “medicinal cannabinoids, not cannabis.” One of their key proposals is: “It is hard to justify a place for a smoked medication, in light of the serious public health harms related to smoking and availability of other methods of delivery. For this reason, the authors would not recommend continuing a debate about the use of smoked medicinal cannabinoids.”

Family First is supporting the rapid expansion of further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms, and the establishment of a programme that allows seriously ill patients to obtain other non-smoked components of marijuana approved and listed by the Ministry of Health via their doctor – with appropriate funding and pricing for patients. Neurologists, palliative care and pain specialists should have a key role in this process.

“The Green party have done us all a favour by declaring the true intention of marijuana campaigners in the coalition agreement with Labour – full legalisation for personal use. Groups like NORML and other marijuana advocates have used medicinal marijuana and decriminalisation as a smokescreen for the real goal.”

“‘Medicinal’ marijuana is being used to manipulate society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. But marijuana will then be diverted from medical programs to ‘recreational’ purposes. A recent study examining recreation and reported medicinal users of cannabis found that 86% of those reporting medicinal use also used cannabis recreationally.”

A study released in 2017 in the US and published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that marijuana use and marijuana use disorders – in which people use the drug in unhealthy or abusive ways – increased at a “significantly greater rate” in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without the laws. The lead researcher from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health said that these laws seem to send a message that use of this drug is safe and acceptable in some way.
Check the Briefing Paper

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