Topic: Health

Support for cannabis law reform is as strong as ever

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

The NZ Drug Foundation is urging political parties to make firm commitments to health-focused drug law during this Election campaign.  

Chief Executive Ross Bell says their new poll shows public support for cannabis law reform is as strong as ever, "This is the thing, I think the public is frustrated with and if you look at our poll, 80% of the NZ public support reform to medical cannabis so that we make medical cannabis more available to people who are sick and who are dying.  And the politicians my goodness, why have they not caught up with that yet?"

The second poll in two years by the foundation shows New Zealanders are fed up with the long wait for cannabis law reform, with calls by thousands of sufferers for a law with compassion.  

Terry Mason says, "I've got rheumatoid arthritis so I've battled seven years against high dose morphine, so unless you're making excessive amounts of money to be able to afford the governments' "accessible stuff", you can't."

After years of being in and out of hospital due to the side effects of opiate medication to treat his spinal injuries, Patrick Tahitahi says his life has changed for the good since he went "green".  But the high cost of medicinal marijuana means it's now out of his reach.

"That's the big factor is the cost.  It doesn't cost much to grow a plant in the back yard, one or two per patient per person just for that medicinal benefit."

The NZ Drug Foundation is challenging both the National and Labour parties to support the call by 65% of the public to either legalise or decriminalise cannabis.  

To date, only the minor parties have indicated their support for reform.

Ross Bell says, "We should expect political parties to be talking about prevention and health and treatment, not about law and order and getting tough.  So I think voters should demand that because certainly, that's what voters want to see."