The NZMA position has not changed

By October 13, 2020 Recent News

Helen Clark criticises Medical Association after ‘very late’ clarification on cannabis stance
TVNZ One News 13 October 2020
Our additional comment: “Our position has not changed in that we continue to be concerned about the harms of cannabis use, but we are not telling people how to vote.” On its website under, ‘New Zealand Medical Association And Cannabis 2020 Referendum’, it stated on May 6 that “NZMA does not condone the use of cannabis for recreational purpose and opposes legalisation”.  “This position has not changed with the Government’s announcement of a 2020 cannabis legalisation  referendum.”

Clark, who has put her support behind the ‘yes’ vote in the cannabis referendum, said it was “disturbing when organisations make claims to speak for their entire membership when clearly they do not”.

NZMA had previously stated it was against the legalisation of cannabis, and on Thursday it was forced to send a clarification letter to its members after RNZ reported doctors had not been consulted on the referendum question stance.

“The NZMA will have no position regarding the cannabis referendum itself,” read the letter, signed by chair Dr Kate Baddock and the NZMA board.

“We are truly sorry if anybody feels that the NZMA has not given them the chance to speak their mind,” it states.

The letter begins by saying that due to “concerns expressed by some members and some misleading information in the media”, it would explain the difference between the End of Life Choice and Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendums.

Asked what she meant by ‘misleading information in the media’, Dr Baddock said it was “disappointing that key parts of our commentary and position have been at times overlooked or not reported”. 

“We have looked primarily at the harms associated with cannabis, but we have recognised that issues to do with cannabis use need to be decriminalised and diverted from the courts and dealt with as health issues.”