Two paths to cannabis reform
NewsRoom 31 January 2018
Family First Comment: This article highlights why we oppose the Greens bill…
“’Would you grow your own aspirin?’ Indeed, cannabis contains over 400 distinct compounds, including 100 different phyto-cannabinoid compounds. “We need to be sure what they’re getting. I cannot see how you would grow your own for a medicine. If I prescribe aspirin, I know what I’m prescribing. By allowing people to grow their own cannabis, doctors would effectively be telling patients to “go out, find some willow bark and make [their] own aspirin.”
The nation’s politicians are about to debate two different types of cannabis reform. Thomas Coughlan explains where they both sit on the reform spectrum and details their pros and cons.
After 10 years of waiting, politicians wanting cannabis reform suddenly have two options in front of them in one week.
The Government’s bill, introduced by Health Minister David Clark, would amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow the use of cannabis-based products and provide a defence for terminally ill patients charged with using them. It was introduced last year and debated for the first time on Tuesday.
An alternative bill, introduced last year by the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and picked up by Chloe Swarbrick after the election would also seek to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act. It would allow anyone with a prescription from a doctor to use cannabinoids, including those they grow themselves — a detail that has caused controversy from the bill’s detractors. It is set to be debated on Wednesday.
While the Government’s bill, with the support of all three governing parties and National, is expected to go to select committee, the fate of Swarbrick’s bill is less certain. The Green party will support the bill and Labour and New Zealand First have signalled they will allow MPs a conscience vote. Key figures in the Government, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have indicated they would support it, at least to committee stage. However, Swarbrick will have to rely on some National votes for the bill to pass its first reading.
Another distinction is that Swarbrick’s bill will allow patients (or an immediate relative or person nominated by the patient), with a doctor’s permission, to grow cannabis to treat themselves. This has lead the bill to be derided by detractors like Family First as a “grow-your-own-dope bill”.
‘Would you grow your own aspirin?’
Indeed, cannabis contains over 400 distinct compounds, including 100 different phyto-cannabinoid compounds.
“We need to be sure what they’re getting. I cannot see how you would grow your own for a medicine,” he said.
“If I prescribe aspirin, I know what I’m prescribing.” By allowing people to grow their own cannabis, doctors would effectively be telling patients to “go out, find some willow bark and make [their] own aspirin.”
That said, there is the prospect of new strains of medical-grade cannabis becoming available in the future.
“It is highly likely a whole dried cannabis plant will reach a sufficient level of consistency to gain Medsafe approval,” Dr Giles Newton-Howes, a senior lecturer of the University of Otago
READ MORE: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/01/30/79511/two-paths-to-cannabis-reform