Cannabis News

Prohibition builds empires of criminals and outlaws the world's most ancient medicine, writes Labour MP Paul Flynn

A 50-year experiment in drug prohibition has been a disaster and is crumbling worldwide.

In 1971 the UK had fewer than a 1,000 heroin and cocaine addicts. After 45 years of the harshest drugs policies in Europe we have 320,000.

Prohibition increases drugs use, harm and crime. It builds empires of criminals as the alcohol prohibition did in America in the twenties.

The good news is that the world has recognised the futility, waste and cruelty of prohibition.

The criminal, irresponsible black market is being replaced by decriminalised regulated markets that can reduce drugs harm and use and liberate the sick to use the world's most ancient medicine.

The bad news is that UK has the worst of all worlds. We waste billions on arresting and imprisoning cannabis users for a taking a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

There was over $11 million in cannabis sold during Oregon’s first 5 days of legal sales, far surpassing the initial sales for Washington and Colorado, the other two US states where cannabis distribution is legal.

According to the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, there was $3.5 million in cannabis sold on October 1st, the first day of legal sales. By contrast, sales in Washington reached just $2 million in the first month, and sales reached $5 million for the first week in Colorado.

The mother of a young Nelson man whose case sparked a national debate about medicinal cannabis says the government's inaction on the issue is hurting people.

Rose Renton's 19-year-old son Alex, who had to be put into an induced coma after suffering repeated seizures, eventually received an exemption to use medical cannabis. He subsequently died from his illness.

Alex Renton was the first person in New Zealand to be granted an exemption for the use of cannabis to treat his epileptic seizures.

But Ms Renton said the process was drawn out and far from easy. She said medicinal cannabis was only granted after a long battle with medical staff for backing, and after 43 other drugs had failed.

The Australian state of Victoria is moving to legalise cannabis for medical use in exceptional circumstances, and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said developments across the Tasman were not dissimilar to the situation here.

The President of the Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly, has admitted using cannabis to help cope with the side effects of lung cancer.

She told the TV3 programme The Nation that she had used the drug to help with pain relief, but that she didn't like having to access it illegally.

Ms Kelly is planning to write to Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne to ask for permission to use cannabis legally.

"I've worked with him, he knows I'm not a drug addict - not that that should matter, but that it's for health reasons.

"I've exhausted all of the normal medicines. I could get morphine, as much as I like, which is a horrible drug, but I would like access to cannabis oil, both because I'm interested in its curative effect, I think there's something in that ... but particularly as it's a mild pain relief."

Ms Kelly said there are important drugs that would help her that she can't get on the public health system.

An Australian family who travelled to Canada in order to legally access cannabis oil treatment could soon be forced to return home, where the life-changing medication is outlawed.

Tabetha and Georgia-Grace Fulton, 13 and 8, both suffer from a degenerative lung disease so rare that it doesn’t have a name. Their mother, Bobby-Jo, brought the girls to Victoria, B.C., so they could access the cannabis oil treatment after a successful – and illegal – 12-week trial in Australia.

The New Zealand Government's new drug policy is out of step with international best practice and is not fit to be presented to the UN in 2016, the Cannabis Party says.

New Zealand's drug policy is a throw-back to racist 20th century hysteria that is completely at odds with the scientific evidence regarding drugs.

The policy deliberately ensures that the drugs which are legally accessible do the most harm to New Zealanders, while medicinally beneficial plants are banned.

The policy makes no distinction between low-risk substances like cannabis, high-risk hard drugs and alcohol.

It forces compulsory drug treatment on innocent cannabis and drug users, many of whom are likely to have no problems with addiction.

The policy fails to achieve its goal of harm minimisation because it continues to endorse prohibition, which is the leading cause of drug related harm.

OPINION: When Rose Renton illegally administered a medical cannabinoid to her son Alex there were few who would speak against her.

All the Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne could say was that Renton's choice was "unfortunate". She was no doubt desperate and wanted to do everything possible to help her son.

It was an emotional and exciting time as Whangarei dad Brendan Guest held his daughter for the first time in a year.

Wife Jessika Guest, daughter Jade and son Ethan have been living in Colorado since June last year, so 7-year-old Jade can access medical marijuana to treat the severe epilepsy which saw her having up to 40 seizures a day. But the decision meant Mr Guest had to remain in Whangarei, where he is working as a truck driver.

The devastated family of a Kaikohe community leader jailed for two years for cannabis supply has lodged an appeal.

Kelly van Gaalen, a 38-year-old mother of three, was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of cannabis for supply in the Kaikohe District Court on July 30 following a jury trial. She was charged with having 684g of cannabis, 24 times the personal use limit of 28g.

Kelly van Gaalen receives an art and culture award from Mayor Wayne Brown.

A leading figure in Kaikohe's arts and business communities has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of possession of cannabis for supply.

Kelly van Gaalen was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Thursday following a jury trial last month. Friends and family in the public gallery, including her three children, wept and called out as the distraught 38-year-old was led away.

Van Gaalen was a member of the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board as well as the chair of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council and promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association. She has resigned from her positions. A community board by-election will be held in October.