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News (Media Awareness Project) - New Zealand: Foundation Disappointed At Govt Drug Response
Title:New Zealand: Foundation Disappointed At Govt Drug Response
Published On:2011-09-09
Source:Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Fetched On:2011-09-11 06:03:26

The Drug Foundation is disappointed the Government has rejected calls
to carry out medicinal cannabis trials but says the door remains open
for pharmaceutical companies to run their own tests.

The Government yesterday released its response to the Law Commission's
May report on drug laws which contained 144 recommendations.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the Government agreed the
1975 Misuse of Drugs Act needed to be rewritten and that task would be
undertaken by the incoming government because it was important the
issues were not rushed.

The Government would not be adopting the recommendation it conduct
clinical trials into the medical use of cannabis leaf.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said science supported
medicinal cannabis for some illnesses including multiple sclerosis,
chronic pain where other medications were ineffective and as an
appetite booster for HIV/Aids and cancer patients.

''A lot of people think that medicinal cannabis is a backdoor way into
trying to legalise cannabis. We absolutely don't agree with that.''

However, New Zealand needed to ensure it didn't allow ''back door
legalisation'' like California had, he said.

''Smoking a few joints and saying it's your medicine isn't accepted by
too many people.''

The Government had not ruled out pharmaceutical companies applying to
run trials and had recently approved a medicinal cannabis inhaler
product called Sativex.

''Clearly the main debate isn't the science and whether it works, it's
how you deliver the medicine.''

There were still barriers to medicinal cannabis trials such as where
pharmaceutical companies sourced their product from because they could
not import raw material.

Bell agreed ''slow and steady'' was the best approach to drug law
reform because the Government shouldn't make major policy decisions so
close to an election.

In the past governments had rejected any call to overhaul the nearly
40-year-old drug laws and the country would have been outraged if all
the Commission's recommendations were rejected, he said.

Labour's associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said the
Government must ensure a rewrite of the drug laws was not a lost

''Replacing the Act with anything other than a significant new policy
that addresses and deals with harm reduction and prevention would be
totally pointless.''

The Commission's recommendations were based on expert and
evidence-based advice.

Ad Feedback ''Yet the Minister is still being coy about some of the
other, more controversial recommendations, including penalties for
supply and possession, a review of the classification system, and more
treatment opportunities.''

Justice Minister Simon Power is handling the Commission's call for a
specialist drug court.

His spokeswoman said the Justice Ministry was working with other
agencies to analysis the cost of a potential drug court pilot and the
minister intended to make an announcement before the election.
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