The tide is turning on medicinal cannabis law reform, with a new poll showing only one in eight people oppose safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis products prescribed by licensed doctors.
Former Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Helen Kelly said the results put pressure on the Government to act now, rather than wait for a potential referendum in the future. "Politicians now have the choice – force those who are mainly unwell to collect signatures simply so the public will be believed, or act quickly and with mercy and fix this mess up so people like me and many others have safe and legal guaranteed access." Kelly, who has terminal lung cancer, has been using illegally sourced cannabis oil for pain relief since stepping down from her role with CTU in October 2015.
The poll was part of a UMR Research online survey, with cannabis related questions put to 500 people. Of those who responded, 76 per cent agreed New Zealand laws should be changed so patients had safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis products prescribed by licensed doctors. Just 12 per cent answered were opposed, while another 12 per cent were undecided. The poll showed a 4 per cent rise in support for law reform since UMR's last poll on the issue in January.
University of Auckland psychology and public health professor Max Abbott said the numbers reflected a change in national opinion. "It's quite remarkable that only 12 per cent were opposed – this may be the lowest level of opposition ever found in a cannabis poll in New Zealand."
A second question about whether natural cannabis products should be treated as herbal remedies when used therapeutically was supported by 61 per cent of respondents. A further 24 per cent opposed the idea, and 15 per cent were undecided.
The poll was conducted for Start The Conversation, a group comprised of activists, researchers and policy analysts hoping to raise awareness and promote discussion of medicinal cannabis law reform.
29 August 2016
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