Medicinal Cannabis in New Zealand: Addressing the Medicinal/Theraputic Divide and Overcoming Barriers to Law Reform
55 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: April 4, 2018
Cannabis is classified as an illegal drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, with use, possession and cultivation illegal unless the requisite governmental approval is obtained. Despite recent regulatory changes, medicinal cannabis remains largely inaccessible, unaffordable and unavailable for ordinary New Zealanders under the current regime.
The central issue running though the medicinal cannabis debate is that individuals want to be able to use cannabis for a variety of health reasons, and not have it strictly controlled as a medicine. In exploring key arguments in favour of, and barriers to, law reform in this area, it is proposed that a wider definition of medicinal cannabis is required which encompasses therapeutic use. After demonstrating that perceived barriers blocking reform are able to be overcome, it is suggested that medicinal cannabis should be included within the upcoming governmental review of therapeutic substances. While it is unclear what shape this new regime may take, the inclusion of medicinal cannabis would allow for continued governmental oversight, alongside avoiding some of the complex processes involved in getting medicines approved and funded in New Zealand. Ultimately, if an individual is deriving a benefit from a relatively harmless, natural substance in a safe and controlled manner as an alternative to more harmful prescription drugs, they ought to be able to do so without fear of criminal repercussions.
Keywords: Law Reform, Medicinal Cannabis, New Zealand
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation