About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion.
Even though cannabis has remarkable medical benefits, the Government heartlessly denies it to those who are suffering or may be cured. They do not keep cannabis illegal for medical reasons. No, the “war on drugs” is a wholly political beat up that allows the state carte blanche to criminalise working-class drug users in general and disproportionally Maori users in particular. Rationality from a medical standpoint has nothing to do with it. Cannabis criminalisation is a racist weapon of the capitalist class to keep us divided and keep us down. For this reason O’Connor’s Bill may not get through without a fight from outside Parliament.
Today’s rally heard inspiring speeches, including from Rose Renton, whose son Alex was the first to person to legally receive medicinal cannabis in a hospital environment. Too little, too late, Alex died aged 19 last year. Rose started the medical cannabis petition and has worked on the proposed Bill. We heard from Rebecca Reider, the first person in New Zealand who was permitted to bring in cannabis prescribed to her in Hawaii for chronic pain. Medical cannabis campaigners are beating down the doors for all of us. We owe a lot to Helen Kelly, and no only in this campaign. It is a disgrace that the government has denied her legal medicinal cannabis in her battle with cancer.
The next events in the campaign for medicinal use will take place on Armistice Day, 11th November, at war memorials.