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The Medicinal Marijuana Bill

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 21st, 2017 - 40 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, drugs, greens, labour, nz first - Tags: , ,

Volunteer Gregory Lyons, 63, of Oakland, makes calls at Oaksterdam University in support of Prop 19, a marijuana legalization initiative, in Oakland Tuesday morning November 2 2010. Lyons is a chocolate chef. (Photo by Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill introduced into Parliament is intended to:

– Introduce a medicinal cannabis scheme to enable access to quality products
– Introduce a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis
– Remove cannabidiol from the schedule of controlled drugs

Here’s the bill as introduced.

Let’s say the surgeon wants to prescribe medical marijuana, once it becomes legal. If I’m in a hospital having major epileptic fits, or recovering from chemotherapy, how confident can I be that this medicine is safe when the doctor prescribes it for me?

So far, there’s limited scientific evidence for it.

We need to make a distinction between medicinal marijuana and medicinal cannibinoids. It’s important that those who need alternative pain relief get it. But if a doctor is to be sure it will cause good not harm as a medicine, it needs to be regulated like a medicine. That means, as the New Zealand Medical Association stated in November 2017, that “The framework for the approach to medicinal cannabis should be consistent with that for medicines”.

Maybe it’s best described as a therapy rather than a medicine.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, representing 25,000 specialists who would be in charge of administering this kind of medicine, have raised a whole bunch of alarms about the weak evidential base for prescribing it at all.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia is just beginning to develop clinical guidelines for medicinal marijuana. New Zealand’s own Medsafe processes have not yet begun in this area

We also need to ask: what are the precise problems that we are trying to solve through this legalisation? The American Psychiatric Association notes that there is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. The American Society of Addiction Medicine also wants medicinal cannabis to jump through the same evidential hops as everyone else, asserting that “Cannabis, cannabis-based products and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medicines and medical devices, and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”

Even if approved, should it be restricted to certain ages? Certainly the American Academy of Pediatrics believes so, who oppose its use due to no evidence that it works on children at all. The American Medical Association, in calling for more research, says this “should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programmes, the legalisation of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.”

The World Health Organisation states that “more research is needed on the basic neuropharmacology of THC and other cannabinoids so that better therapeutic agents can be found.”

The 2016 paper “Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use” by Barnes and Barnes starts to set out what the data holes look like, and they conclude the same as the above: “Clearly there needs to be much further work with regard to the formulation of cannabis and the best THC:CBD ratio for different conditions and better and further studies are needed on both short and, more particularly, longer term effects.” They emphasise the need for strictly controlled trials and a quality-controlled product and a secure supply chain.

So even if this law is passed, before the doctor gets to prescribe medicinal marijuana as a thing for your sick auntie, or your baby, or your elderly granddad, or even if the vet wants to give it to your cat, ask them: where is the evidence that this is safe for me, let alone effective?

40 comments on “The Medicinal Marijuana Bill”

  1. tracey 1

    We need to stop being chumps. On the one hand we deem ourselves enlightened enough to debate and possibly legislate for end of life and on the other have to be dragged kicking and screaming to a medicinal marajuana debate. It would be funny if not so sad.

    Criminalise alcohol or legalise marajuana then the debate has some sanity.

    It is kinda funny watching some who usually scream ” Nanny State” opposing End of Life ( the ultimate autonomous choice) and legalising cannabis ( no I am not confused about medical use but consider the medical use is the cop out stance of those too scared of part of the electorate to at least decriminalise dope).

    • Ad 1.1

      To make that argument work you would need to start with a much harder and stronger regulatory regime over alcohol, tobacco, and, marijuana, so you could start making a case for a common regulatory framework for such substances based upon harm, cumulative damage to society, cumulative cost, and cumulative benefits.

      This government doesn’t have the mental capacity to do that.

      • JanM 1.1.1

        And the last one did??

        • red-blooded 1.1.1.1

          Did anyone say that? And is it relevant?

          I think it’s a bit unfair to use the “this government” label – after all, a lot of this regulatory work is done by officials rather than elected politicians, but I certainly don’t see Ad endorsing the last government in his comment.

      • To make that argument work you would need to start with a much harder and stronger regulatory regime over alcohol, tobacco, and, marijuana, so you could start making a case for a common regulatory framework for such substances based upon harm, cumulative damage to society, cumulative cost, and cumulative benefits.

        No we don’t need a much harder regulatory regime to work with.
        If we did base the regulations upon harm then it would be marijuana that would be easy to get and alcohol hard.

        This government doesn’t have the mental capacity to do that.

        It probably does but they’re scared about possible political ramifications. Rather silly really when the majority of people are in favour of recreational legalisation of marijuana. Simply putting it into the present alcohol regulations would work.

      • JustPassingThrough 1.1.3

        We already have that. It’s called the Misuse of Drugs Act. It just doesn’t include alcohol and nicotine for some weird reason.

  2. Rosemary McDonald 2

    If there was ever an example of the truly bizarre influence of the ‘conventional’ pharmaceutical industry its this…

    Screened during the Super Bowl….

    • The Fairy Godmother 2.1

      Thanks so much Rosemary. I am going to go round and see my mother and play it to her. I will also try and find some prune juice. This is a really helpful piece of info for people with opoid induced constipation

      • red-blooded 2.1.1

        Kiwifruit and kiwifruit juice (including ice blocks) can also be really helpful. Plus, sometimes it takes time for the body to find a new balance. I nearly gave up on a medication that helps control my epilepsy because it gave me dreadful constipation but it settled down after a few months and kiwifruit was a big part of gaining back some balance.

        Best wishes to your mother.

      • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.2

        TFG…apart from the usual oral laxatives…(and there are many, of varying effectiveness ) there are OTC suppositories and enemas that can really help if used occasionally. My favourite trick for bowels that simply refuse to ‘peristalt’ is to gently massage, in a downward direction, the sacral area. The use of a lotion or balm can make this gentler if skin integrity is compromised. This hint was shared by someone who had provided over fifty years of care to someone whose disability resulted in severe constipation. It worked.

        I once cared for a youngish lady who had MND. She was handling the loss of physical function like a stoic…but it was the awful, awful constipation from the routinely prescribed codeine pain relief that destroyed her usual sense of humour.

        Best of luck.

  3. Me 3

    I like this one

  4. DoublePlusGood 4

    Just legalise drugs and be done with the whole ridiculous system we have at the moment.

  5. Rosemary McDonald 5

    Two things Bill…the Bill you’ve linked to is not the Clark Bill (which doesn’t seem to actually exist yet in Bill form) but the Swarbrick (formerly Genter) Bill that will be put to the house early next year, and I suspect it will form part of the construction of the Clark Bill in a ‘run it up the flagpole and see how it flutters’ way.

    Secondly…I hadn’t taken you for a Yankyphile, so what’s with the references to ‘research’ from the US?

    I’d take with a largish grain of salt research that denigrates a cheap and accessible medicine when the researchers are most likely conflicted by relationships to insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

    As we know…ALL drugs approved by the FDA are well tested in robust clinical trials and have few if any adverse effects.

    And advertisements don’t mislead…or christ forbid…lie. 🙂

    • Two things Bill…

      Ad?

      I hadn’t taken you for a Yankyphile, so what’s with the references to ‘research’ from the US?

      Ad is highly conservative and generally blocks change wherever.
      And what’s a Yankyphile?

      I’d take with a largish grain of salt research that denigrates a cheap and accessible medicine when the researchers are most likely conflicted by relationships to insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

      Medical uses really do need to be researched but we already know that simply smoking natural marijuana reduces pain and that it’s not particularly dangerous. This is why I think that recreational legalisation should be done first. It makes it available for those that need it for pain while also opening the door for specific medical research.

      • red-blooded 5.1.1

        Presumably Yankyphile = Yankeephile (someone who hates Yankees) – and presumably, you too managed to work this out.

        And where’s the reference to ‘research’ from the US? I don’t see Ad using quote marks like this, to imply doubt in the validity of the research. Indeed, he seems to put a lot of trust in the findings of the various bodies he quotes.

        I actually think the government is behaving reasonably on this issue. Yes, we should move on pain relief, but yes, we should go with an evidence-based approach. There are frustrations with the slowness of the process, and the fact that it’s only the terminally ill who’ve been approved to use cannabis without prosecution in the meantime, but if we want cannabis products to be prescribed (and hopefully funded by Pharmac) then they need to pass the same standards as any other medication.

        • Siobhan 5.1.1.1

          Not that it really matters, but for future reference, Yankophile…American-loving..back to the pedants corner with me….

          • red-blooded 5.1.1.1.1

            Ah! That makes more sense… Thanks, Soibhan. I was distracted by the phonics.

            Having said that (and going back to Rosemary M’s comment), I don’t see that one would have to love Americans in order to take the research findings of significant medical bodies seriously. Should one be Yankee(or Yanko)phobic and dismiss all research that comes out of the US of A?

            • Rosemary McDonald 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “Should one be Yankee(or Yanko)phobic and dismiss all research that comes out of the US of A?”

              Possibly, probably…

              see /the-medicinal-marijuana-bill/#comment-1428885

              • red-blooded

                Sorry, Rosemary, but that’s just ridiculous. Cannabis is no different than plenty of other plants that provide ingredients or are the sources for medications that are researched, refined and produced already by the industry and overseen by the various professional bodies. The AMA is calling for more research – that’s not shutting the door, it’s just being scientific.

                Most of the research into new medications is done in the US. Are you seriously suggesting that we should ignore all that research, or is that suggestion limited to this one source ingredient?

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  “Most of the research into new medications is done in the US.”

                  I don’t have time to verify that…but you could well be right.

                  However…and again I’m taking a punt here…I’m guessing that the bulk of the research performed in the US on any medicines is funded, in some way, by the massively influential pharmaceutical industry.

                  Who will never, ever allow any research which gives any credence to claims of the benefits of cannabis.

                  Because they don’t own the patent.

                  Having said that…I vaguely recall reading somewhere that one of the Big Pharma companies was or had patented one of the compounds in cannabis.

                  When I have the time I’ll look it up.

                  Not what I was looking for…but interesting nonetheless…

                  https://www.statista.com/chart/10149/top-ten-in-big-pharma/

                • Stunned mullet

                  Two of the better manufacturers of medicinal cannabinoids/devices are the two below

                  http://www.syqemedical.com
                  https://www.tilray.ca

      • Rosemary McDonald 5.1.2

        Ad?

        My bad…and makes perfect sense now… 😉

        “Medical uses really do need to be researched …”

        That would be great, especially if those already using cannabis products are allowed to participate without fear of prosecution.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1

          Which is why I said we should be making recreational use legal first.

          • Blair Anderson 5.1.2.1.1

            I am not sure ‘recreational’ is the right terminology… I don’t recreate on a dram. I don’t recreate on watching a movie either… I might enjoy one (or the other) because of who I am with (experience in common etc) but, for clarity, I might enjoy a cannabis experience better than an alcohol experience, just as I might enjoy playing tennis more than cricket. What irks me is the ongoing notion that it is an either-or choice. We can have one OR the other based on nothing more than ‘gravely vile’ mischievous legislation that is ageist, sexist, classist and racist in application. That does my head in…

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1.1.1

              I don’t recreate on a dram. I don’t recreate on watching a movie either… I might enjoy one

              So, that would be the exact definition of recreation:

              Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be “fun”.

              So, yep, watching a movie and/or having a Dram is recreation. Having a joint is also recreation.

  6. One Two 6

    The pharmaceutical industry would nod in approval at this article..

    Each and every one of the ‘agencies’ refered to are beholden to the chemical pharmaceutical industry ,and as such are gatekeepers and protectors of revenue streams for those companies..nothing more

    ‘More research’

    Yes, into the toxic poisons and unethical methods used to enable the continued peddling of said toxic chemicals

    Hundreds of thousands of deaths per year globally at a minumum and more research os required into a plant as a priority…

  7. Andre 7

    When considering the lack of studies around benefits of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, it’s worth remembering that getting approval and materials to perform those studies has been extremely difficult in the US since 1970.

    https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/why-its-so-hard-scientists-study-pot

  8. alwyn 8

    Guyon Espiner doesn’t seem to be capable of simple logic.
    Today on Morning Report he quizzed Health Minister Clark on whether Ardern had promised to make Cannabis legal during a pre-election Leaders’ Debate.
    According to Espiner, and I assume he was quoting correctly, the two leaders were asked “Would you consider legalising Cannabis for medical purposes”. He then quoted Ardern as replying “The answer is absolutely yes”.
    Somehow Guyon now claims that Labour hasn’t delivered on a promise to legalise its use.

    It is certainly true that Labour aren’t legalising cannabis for medical purpose. However Ardern never promised to. She only promised to consider it. Well she, or the Coalition have considered it, and decided no way. She did exactly what she promised to do. She CONSIDERED it.

    Espiner’s pin-pricking is exactly what “Blip” used to do with John Key’s statements. He claimed that Key was lying when what was actually happening was that Blip was claiming that John Key’s remarks were in answer to some other question, one that was never asked.

    Ardern was doing exactly the same thing. She was answering a specific question in such a way that people heard what they wanted to hear. She never ever promised to make its use legal. She just made you think she had.
    I confess I never thought she had the political smarts to be able to do that. I thought that that was a skill that only Helen Clark and John Key possessed among our recent leaders.

    • Espiner’s pin-pricking is exactly what “Blip” used to do with John Key’s statements. He claimed that Key was lying when what was actually happening was that Blip was claiming that John Key’s remarks were in answer to some other question, one that was never asked.

      Bollocks.

      BLiP’s list is accurate and John Key really did say what he is reported as saying to the questions asked.

      • alwyn 8.1.1

        If Blip’s list is so “accurate” perhaps you can tell me, picking one at random (number 39) what diplomatic post Don Brash received?
        The link to that rat-bag weekend paper has, of course, a headline that has nothing to do with the story.
        I had a look at this on several occasions and always found that the stories were never more than one interpretation of the real story.
        For a lot of them the only link is to a press statement by someone like Michael Cullen.
        Did you really rely on him for your justifications?

        • Stunned mullet 8.1.1.1

          😆 Dear old BLiP, goodness knows what he spends his time doing these days now that he hasn’t got key around anymore to froth over.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2

          You seem to misunderstand – probably on purpose.

          Key offered Brash a job if he stepped down without a fight. Afterwards the story changed.

          All documented in the link.

          • alwyn 8.1.1.2.1

            Well I re-read the whole article and I don’t see any evidence that John Key had offered Don Brash a diplomatic appointment if he stood down quietly.
            What does this article say.?
            It starts with a hiss and a roar. “JOHN KEY plans to appoint”. Then it fades to “sources have told”. Un-named sources of course.
            Then we get “this has firmed into Key planning” but fades down to Key saying “we’re not saying it’s not possible that he could be used in some capacity”
            Then we get the ‘Evidence”.
            “One newspaper published a rumour of the Brash job offer” and “could be forgiven for thinking Key owed him something in return”

            Finally, late in the piece we get “So, there was no `here you go, buddy, you have this one and you leave’? It was a genuine step down?” Key replied: ‘”It was a genuine step down.” Finally we get from Brash “But no promises had been made.”
            So, like all of Blip’s stories there is no evidence at all. Just some conjecture from journalists and consistent denials by the only people who could know.

            I tried something similar. I had a chat with a reporter. We met on the footpath directly in front of Fraser House. This gave him his lead
            “A source very close to Labour Party headquarters told me”.
            I then told him that I had heard that Ardern had given Peters a total veto over any Government Bills.
            He published that verbatim.
            He then asked Winston whether the story was true. Winston replied “Listen Sunshine, I have more to do than talk to you about rumours”
            This became “Peters refused to confirm or deny the story”.
            So he asked Ardern. She said “I have no knowledge of any such agreement with anyone”
            This became “Ardern denies the story which I have been assured happened and which Peters refused to discuss”.

            Blip of course would turn this into “Ardern LIes”
            Easy isn’t it?

    • the pigman 8.2

      “Well she, or the Coalition have considered it, and decided no way. She did exactly what she promised to do. She CONSIDERED it.

      Yes dear, and the American invaders are committing suicide at the gates of Baghdad.

      I always wondered what happened to the Iraqi (Dis)Information Minister who provided those caricatured Fox News soundbites in the televised invasion of Iraq.

      I’m glad to know he’s not only still alive, but part of the wider Standard community.

      Anyone interested in facts can actually read the Bill, and should keep up with the ongoing commentary on the issue from Russell Brown and Ross Bell. Rather too much disinformation being pedalled by idiots at the moment.

      • alwyn 8.2.1

        I prefer to listen to the comments about the bill by the current Health Minister Clark.
        Have a listen to him on Morning Report (the interview is at about 7.14am on 21st from memory.
        He quite clearly said that the drug was not being legalised, but that he trusted the police wouldn’t enforce it.

  9. Cinny 9

    Made in NZ please, 90 day plant cycle, if they are going to supply it on perscription, commonsense would be not to import raw product.

  10. R.P. Mcmurphy 10

    It is obvious that people are raping and looting and murdering and dancing with negroes now so if cannabis is legalised then what will happen next?

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