Make medical marijuna legal

Last night on the Sunday programme, there was an article about medical marijuana and the case for it in New Zealand. It follows a series of high profile cases in recent years where people with crippling illnesses, some of a terminal nature have resorted to using marijuana as a pain reliever, challenging New Zealand laws.

I have no doubt that the day is coming when the case for legalizing medical marijuana will become too strong to ignore. Although some criticize the Government for its apparent slowness in progressing with legalization, there are several things that need to be done first:

  • Determine the best method of dispensing it – do we make generally available to all, or should medical marijuana be only available via prescription
  • Investigate how will the manufacture and distribution of medical marijuana before it reaches the point of sale be done
  • Investigate how should it be taxed – what is appropriate, as significant revenue could be generated

I cannot ignore cases of people needing a strong pain killer for dealing with terminal illnesses such as that which former trade union  spokesperson Helen Kelly is suffering. Although I am not sure about allegations that the late Martin Crowe or Sir Paul Holmes used marijuana for pain relief dealing with their late stage cancer, I would not be terribly surprised if either had given it consideration.

Overseas based researchers familiar with plant science and the biophysical conditions under which marijuana for medical purposes could be safely grown, think New Zealand needs to grow its own medical marijuana instead of relying on other countries. The Australian state of Tasmania for example already earns over N.Z$200 million per annum from its supply to the international market.

Internationally most of the European Union, many American states, Bangladesh, Canada, Montevideo, Colombia, Argentina Chile, Australia and North Korea have effectively legalized marijuana for medical purposes. In Colorado, and the Netherlands there have been well publicized law changes. In North Korea the availability of medicinal marijuana probably has nothing to do with any ethical or compassionate concerns so much as the country relies on the illicit drugs trade as a way of making money. Not all countries support legalized marijuana and indeed Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia among others have used the death penalty against anyone caught in possession of marijuana regardless of its intended purpose.

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