Key public figures are set to assemble at the Auckland Town Hall next week to host a public discussion on the impacts of cannabis laws in NZ communities.
The launch of the "Let's Start The Conversation" campaign – a national vehicle to create informed community discussion and debate around the impacts of current cannabis laws – kicks off on Monday, June 27th with a Town Hall Assembly in Auckland officially endorsed by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association .
Chaired by Russell Brown and featuring Helen Kelly, Professor Max Abbott (AUT), Warren Young (New Zealand Law Commission, Ret.), Dr. Chris Wilkins (Massey SHORE) and others, the event follows on from the Great Marijuana Debate chaired by the late Sir Peter Williams on 26th Oct 1984.
New Zealand feature documentary Druglawed has won best feature the New York Cannabus Culture Film Festival.
Director Arik Reiss said it was the first time the documentary had been screened in the US.
"It is awesome to win this festival and get some recognition for the hard work that went into producing Druglawed," he said.
The popularity of the first films has inspired Reiss to produce a sequel to Druglawed.
In 2011, the Government and the Green Party promised a law that would encourage the use of Natural Health Products alongside conventional medicine as a precursor to an integrated, science-based approach to health.
Instead the law has emerged from the corridors of power as a draconian and restrictive approach which is very different from the integrative approach to medicine which is beginning to flourish overseas.
A significant number of herbs will be restricted without just cause. Very common kitchen foods and well known folk remedies are already on the list to be restricted in various ways by Medsafe.
UN Secretary General nominee Helen Clark has confronted Peter Dunne at the recent UNGASS meeting, regarding New Zealand's lack of progress on decriminalising cannabis.
A New Zealand representative at the global drug policy conference told The Cannabis Party that Helen Clark approached the New Zealand delegation and asked Peter Dunne what he was doing to progress the decriminalisation of cannabis.
Dunne was reportedly lost for words as he was not making any progress towards cannabis decriminalisation.
The minister responsible for medical cannabis, Peter Dunne, has been challenged by patients after claiming strong expert support for existing medical cannabis regulations.
The doctors surveyed were "hand selected" and have "little experience with medical cannabis", according to patient Rebecca Reider.
"The Ministry failed to consult the many patients who the system has failed, those who are using cannabis unlawfully as an effective pain relief, those who have used it legally overseas, those who suffer in pain though fear of breaking the law, or doctors who understand the benefits cannabis offers," she said.
Winston Peters has spoken out in support of the rights of tobacco smokers, linking his argument to the issue of legalising cannabis:
We all know smoking might not be good for your health, but the government hiking tobacco taxes in their 2016 "Get-Stuffed" Budget is just a lot of fat people sitting in their ivory towers telling smokers what to do.
You would view their action in a more sympathetic light if they showed any consistency – for example dealing with the negative impacts of obesity and the abuse of alcohol on people’s health and coming up with policies.
The government's so-called review of the medicinal cannabis access guidelines has failed to protect patients.
"These very minor changes will only help a few people, and even these seriously ill people will need to jump through quite a few hoops to have any chance of approval," said Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML New Zealand Inc).
The current guidelines were shown to be cruel and unnecessarily tough after terminally-ill cancer patient Helen Kelly failed to qualify for the special exemption required under the current law. "However, the guidelines have barely been touched."