Media Release 8 June 2017
Family First NZ says that the private members bill of Green MP Julie Anne Genter should be rejected by MPs when it comes up for its 1st Reading in Parliament, and that the cautious approach being used by the Government is the correct approach.
“This bill is effectively a grow-your-own-dope bill with very little control or safeguards. In fact, you can become a dope dealer for your relative or friend. And the qualifying medical condition criteria is very wide and subjective. NZ’ers need to be aware of the smoke-screen of ‘medicinal marijuana’ and the real agenda by some groups behind liberalising drug laws and the potential abuse of medicinal marijuana. The strategy of groups who want dope legalised is to promote medicinal marijuana which simply manipulates society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. But marijuana will then be diverted from medical programs to ‘recreational’ purposes,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Other weaknesses of Genter’s bill include:
•The definition of “medicinal cannabis” is much broader than anything in current regulations. It’s basically any weed for what ails you
•“Nominated support person” in the bill is anyone nominated by the prospective patient to “cultivate, administer, supply, or possess medicinal cannabis” on the patient’s behalf. Only a medical practitioner will need to be told that person’s name. This will be great news for dope dealers.
•“qualifying health condition” is very broad, including “chronic back or other pain” & “any other medical condition that a medical practitioner certifies may benefit from supplementary plant cannabinoids”. This is broader than a number of US states including California
•you only need a “supportive medical report” – not a prescription. So doctors will be agreeing to something they have no control over.
“The international experience and research backs this up. A US study found that the average ‘patient’ was a 32-year-old white male with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and no history of life threatening illness. A study on medicinal marijuana, just published online 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,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Any proposal to go soft on recreational drug use, drug growing and drug dealing at any level should be completely rejected.”
However, Family First is supporting allowing CBD oil to be prescribed by doctors, 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.
The Green party’s medicinal cannabis bill in 2009 – which was soundly defeated – allowed for teenagers to cultivate and smoke cannabis with parental permission, created dope ‘pimps’, and appointed police to be the ‘dealers’. It also deemed medicinal purposes to include depression and mental illness, eating disorders, and schizophrenia, despite research suggesting that marijuana actually exacerbates these conditions.
“We support the NZ government’s caution around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But this private members bill fails the safety test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people,” says Mr McCoskrie.