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Should marijuana be legalised for medicinal use?

Should marijuana be legalised for medicinal use?

By United Future MP and health spokeswoman Judy Turner

Cannabis should be legalised for medical use if - and only if - there are compelling arguments put forward by the medical and scientific communities.

At that point, there would be no reason for United Future to oppose cannabis as a medication, any more than there would be to oppose the use of morphine, similarly illegal on the streets, but prescribed as needed by GPs the length and breadth of New Zealand.

It goes without saying that one would expect that as a medication, it would be handled in the usual manner - by prescription and with the appropriate controls, checks and balances that apply to all medicines.

However, what is clear at this point is that the case for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes is not being pushed in any significant manner by the scientific and medical communities - indeed there are substantial bodies of opinion within these communities that question whether the side-effects would out-weigh the benefits.

That is a matter for experts to probe. It is not a matter for politicians, any more than would be the use of any other substance being proposed for medical use.

What is perhaps of greatest concern is that the main proponents of cannabis use for medicinal purposes are the drug's recreational users. When the argument is put forward by Medsafe, United Future will listen.

The very fact that the media is so interested in whether or not cannabis, a drug, should be legalised for medicinal purposes is indicative of the general blurring of issues surrounding cannabis.

The fact is that the discussion on cannabis as a medication is not being properly separated from the issue of legalisation of the drug for general use. And clearly this is because the main proponents of the medical argument are also those who call for its full legalisation.

At that point, one can legitimately ask if the push from recreational users is simply part of an overall strategy to obtain legalisation? One can ask if the argument is really little more than a Trojan horse to promote overall acceptance of the drug?

United Future makes no apologies for taking a strong anti-drugs stand and will continue to do so. The issue of what is a medicine and what is not should be decided by the experts, and not those running pro-drug agendas.

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