Kiwis Protest NZ Medical Cannabis Review Outcome

Medicinal marijuana in New Zealand
Image: BigStock

A group of angry medical cannabis users in New Zealand have taken the country’s Ministry of Health to task over a recent review of criteria.

They have accused the Ministry’s approach as ” deceptive, unscientific, and in breach of patients’ human rights” and are demanding an independent review.

An external consultation carried out by the Ministry stated prescribers with a background of seeking approvals to prescribe cannabis-based products consider the process sound and do not find the guidelines or the application process a barrier.

It also claims the use of cannabis based medicines “is not creating widespread excitement amongst specialists” and that social and media reports on cannabis-based medicines tend to be misleading.

Following the review, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced there would be no change to guidelines around prescribing cannabis-based products.

“The Ministry review is poorly designed, and lacks both scientific basis and respect for patientsā€™ health and human rights. The outcome was accordingly pre-determined,” says a statement from the group.

“Rather than empowering patients with safe and affordable choices, the guidelines make access to cannabis unnecessarily difficult and restrict choices to expensive pharmaceutical preparations accessible only for the wealthy few. They fail to achieve the stated objective of the UN to facilitate affordable access to medical cannabis.”

The group says many of them have been forced to source their medication illegally in order to get relief from what they describe as being debilitating symptoms.

As well as an independent enquiry, the group is calling on New Zealand’s Government to provideĀ  immediate access to medical cannabis on the same basis as other scheduled medicines, for an open-minded consultation with patients, education of doctors and patients and for the country to ” fulfil its human rights obligations to its citizens and to adopt best international practice”.

“We are all willing to share our experiences with the Ministry of Health. The question is whether they are willing to listen,” they say.

The full statement can be viewed here.

There is strong support for medical cannabis in New Zealand and the nation’s government has previously indicated it would follow Australia’s lead on medicinal marijuana management.

Trivia – on a somewhat related note, New Zealand and Australia are the only countries in the world where the sale of hemp food is generally still illegal.