The Legalisation of Medical Marijuana in New Zealand

The cannabis regulatory environment has been under a reform mode for the past few years.

The cannabis regulatory environment has been under a reform mode for the past few years.

Is Marijuana in New Zealand Legal or Not?

The regulatory landscape of cannabis in New Zealand is nearly as ambiguous as the crops of scientific evidence of the drug’s characteristics. In many instances, what we see on the ground from law enforcement activities is mostly in disparity what is on the books, as officers often overlook offenders should be booked for their crimes.

For instance, though medical use has been legalized, many medical patients still source their cannabis products from illegal channels, but they’re hardly ever prosecuted. According to an official take on the current state of affairs, the government says the new regulatory approach is inclined toward health consciousness rather than prosecution.

The increasing laxity of the cannabis regulatory environment in New Zealand owes more to pressure from mounting scientific evidence of the drug’s therapeutic potentials, as well as the waxing streak of cannabis legalization across various parts of the globe. New Zealand is also looking to take a leadership position in the committee of nations regarding cannabis law reforms, with the government setting aside over $13 million to roll out the world’s first-ever cannabis referendum. Law enforcement and policymakers are now treading softly around the issue of cannabis consumption.

  

Marijuana for Medical Use

Recently, the Ministry of Health paved the way for medical marijuana patients to obtain medicinal marijuana without their direct supervision. Before then, patients would need to go through an arduous process of obtaining approval from the Ministry of Health to purchase their cannabis products. Medical use was legalized, but patients still had to go through a bottleneck to get their medical cannabis supplies. The number of patients who successfully obtained permits in various jurisdictions was abysmal. As a result, the black market continued to flourish like in the pre-medical legalization era, as most patients sourced their cannabis products from the illegal markets.

And policymakers couldn’t ignore the poignancy of the situation. They’ve realized that with the level of desperation for cannabis treatment among patients, punitive measures are no longer sound advice. To address the quagmire, policymakers are taking an increasingly lax approach, favoring regulation of use over complete prohibition.

 

Pros of Using Marijuana

The pros and cons of cannabis use.

The pros and cons of cannabis use. src

The jury is still out on many potential medicinal properties of cannabis. But in the meanwhile, there are some overwhelming - though not conclusive – evidences of some therapeutic benefits. These include:

  • Epilepsy:
    The government has approved Sativex, a cannabis-based product for the treatment of rare and highly intense types of seizures.
  • Cancer:
    Cannabis can lend itself to use in cancer treatment in multiple ways. First, it helps in the eradication of cancerous cells, and then also aids patients to cope with chemo side effects such as nausea and lack of appetite.
  • Anxiety disorder:
    Cannabis is well-known for its calming, relaxing effects, and it can therefore help people cope better with various anxiety disorders.
  • Pain management:
    Many medical cannabis patients are on the drugs due to one type of pain or another. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years across various societies to treat and manage various types of pain from muscle cramps to arthritis, chronic pain, etc.
 

Cons of Using Marijuana

Opponents of any form of legalization also have some limbs to stand on, as marijuana has also been shown to be harmful in certain respects.

  • Memory loss:
    It’s commonplace for marijuana users to be faced with short-term memory loss issues.
  • Bipolar disorders:
    People suffering from bipolar disorders are explicitly warned to keep away from marijuana as the drug is well-known to exacerbate such disorders and cause psychosis or panic attack.
  • Drug interference:
    It’s always advisable to use medical cannabis under the supervision of a medical expert, especially if you’re currently placed on other drugs. Marijuana is known to interfere with the functions of other drugs in the body.
 

Latest News/Trends Concerning the Legalization of Medical Marijuana in NZ

So far, a number of companies in the country have been given state licenses to cultivate, extract, process, and manufacture cannabis products. Many more state licenses are expected to be issued, as there’s a palpable certainty that some form of the drug use will be legalized in the referendum. Most of these licensed companies are already stocking shelves of pharmacies and dispensaries with various types of high-grade cannabis products. Some of them have also gone to offer their shares to the public to raise money for their operations.