Huge support, timid response on medicinal cannabis

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Today the Associate Health Minister, Peter Dunne, announced that he was loosening the rules around medicinal cannabis.

The incremental shift came after decades of campaigning from various groups and individuals and a groundswell of public support from people like you.

Over 5,500 people from the ActionStation community who signed the petition calling for GPs to be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis treatments.

Dunne’s announcement today doesn’t go far enough.

The changes announced today would still put a high barrier in place for people in severe pain and discomfort who want to access the drug, with the Ministry of Health still needing to sign off on applications from specialists (Listen to the Drug Foundation’s Ross Bell excellent commentary on the announcement).

Despite being a small change it wouldn’t have happened at all if it weren’t for people power demonstrated by people like you.

It’s also due to the hard work by the amazing people who have campaigned on this for many years like Nelson teenager Alex Renton and union leader and campaigner Helen Kelly. They spoke out at personal cost and risk on behalf of others, and because of their work there is now a public consensus on this issue. A UMR poll in 2016 showed that 72 percent said they would support a medical marijuana regime.

Let’s urge the Minister to go further and listen to the majority of New Zealanders who support legalisation of medicinal cannabis. There is no sense in keeping barriers high for doctors to prescribe necessary treatments.

Are you able to send him an email today at p.dunne@ministers.govt.nz, thanking him for doing something and urging him to do more to reduce the barriers to medicinal cannabis treatments. We would be very interested in his reply to you if you can forward it to us.

On the one hand, we’re thrilled that the barriers for access to cannabis-based medical products are being lowered by this Government. It’s a win for science, and for evidence-based policy, a win for compassion. It is a win, and a step in the right direction for who need access to these medications.

However the barriers are still in place. Accessing specialist care takes resources that many of the people in greatest need of relief from pain simply do not have. Other barriers that remain include the lack of products, high costs, and lack of support for doctors.

We’re seeing again what this Government repeatedly has done, that is, taking the least possible action required to appease public concern on issues of human well-being.

Send Dunne an email at p.dunne@ministers.govt.nz

Keep the pressure on!

Help us keep the pressure on as we do the petition handover to Parliament in two weeks time and ensure the message is heard. Will you chip in $3 to keep the pressure on? 10% of donations will go to support Veronica Stevenson’s valuable project to provide educational resources to doctors on medicinal cannabis.

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