Rachel Smalley: Cannabis isn't the big scary beast it once was

Author
Rachel Smalley ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 15 August 2016, 7:14AM
Cannabis and medicinal cannabis capsules (iStock)
Cannabis and medicinal cannabis capsules (iStock)

Cannabis -- what do you think? Decriminalise it, legalise it? Should we rethink the laws that govern personal possession?

And what about cannabis as a medicinal pain reliever?

The drug foundation has commissioned a poll out today, but what's interesting about this poll is that it broken down according to political allegiance.

The reason? To make this less of a political issue, presumably.

Among National voters, the majority support reform -- they believe the law that governs personal possession needs an overhaul.

And the Drug Foundation says that should embolden our politicians.

In the past, National voters have been a bit on the fence on this -- those who do support reform have been in the minority.

Not any more.

Sixty-four per cent now believe the personal possession of a small amount of cannabis is okay -- make it legal, or decriminalise it, they say.

But by far the greatest support is for law reform when it comes to the use of cannabis for pain relief.

Seventy-nine per cent said it should be legalised or decriminalised, and that moved to 82 per cent when the question was posed about the drug's use for terminal patients.

Sir Paul Holmes used it. Martin Crowe did too.

And more recently union leader helen kelly has advocated for its use as well.

If it eases pain, if it brings relief to people who are very ill, then what reasoning can we give to stand in the way of its medicinal use?

If it's legal to prescribe morphine to relieve pain -- the pure form of which is opium -- then what justification can we have for blocking the medicinal use of cannabis?

The government maintains that leaf cannabis will remain illegal.

But the national drug policy is under review at the moment and Peter Dunne -- the associate health minister -- says three words are underpinning that review.

The first is compassion -- and that relates to whether drug use should be viewed as a health problem in this country, rather than an issue for the judicial system to sort out.

The second is proportion -- should we ease up on the severity of punishment when it comes to the possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use.

But the third word is 'innovation'. And innovation is key here.

This applies to how we view the medicinal use of cannabis as a pain reliever.

It will be interesting to see how the Government responds to this poll today.

National's voter base has clearly moved on this issue.

Cannabis isn't the big scary beast it once was.

Well, not to the public.

There is public support for reform -- lets see if there is the political will too.

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