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NZMA Backs Medical Use Of Cannabis

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZMA Backs Medical Use Of Cannabis

The country's largest medical organisation is backing a Law Commission proposal that would allow for the medicinal use of cannabis.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), which has 4500 members, says it supports a Law Commission proposal to allow people suffering from chronic or debilitating illnesses to use cannabis under medical supervision.

The proposal, outlined in the commission's "Issues Paper on Controlling and Regulating drugs", has not found favour with Justice Minister Simon Power, but NZMA Director Peter Foley believes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes IS acceptable, provided it is subject to the same evidence-based testing as any other drug used for the same reason.

In a submission to the Law Commission, Foley said the Association (NZMA) supported cannabis being prescribed by registered medical practitioners for specified conditions where other available treatments or drug therapies have not been effective or have produced unmanageable side-effects. Medicinal use of cannabis is currently legal in 13 states in the US, Canada, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Green Party tried last year to get the Misuse of Drugs Act amended to allow cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes, but their bill failed on its first reading after it was voted down 86-34 on a conscience vote by MPs.

Cannabis is still the drug of choice for New Zealanders, according to a UN report, with cannabis use in our region more prevalent than ANYWHERE else in the World. In 2003, around 20% of people aged between 15-45 used cannabis here. That has now dropped to 17.9%.

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