A Referendum to Legalise Cannabis in New Zealand Could Take Place in 2017

  • Some politicians in the country believe that the time has come to battle and accept cannabis for medical use. Therefore they want people to have a say in the next elections, so that those who need it can benefit from the properties of this plant and no longer need to choose drugs that make their illness visible and mean that they cannot lead a normal life. 

Helen Kelly, the former president of the central New Zealand union, the Council of Trade Unions, has proposed a referendum in the next general election in order to legalise cannabis. She has done so after she herself has had to use cannabis oil illegally to treat the pain caused by her lung cancer. As she stated, she is now in talks with several members of parliament trying to make the idea become a reality in 2017.

She thinks that the laws of her country that forced her to access the product using non-administrative means are “absolutely ridiculous”. She thinks that if it is possible to have a referendum about the country’s flag, then it should also be possible to talk about this issue, which is even more crucial for many citizens. In her opinion, it would be worthwhile “to know for once and all” what the rest of the citizens think about medical cannabis. She argues that the plant, consumed during the night, relieves her pain, helps her to sleep and does not make her seem sick, which is what happens with morphine.

Some people have shown her their support. The deputy Health Minister, Peter Dunne, has stated that last year approval was given for an adolescent suffering from epilepsy to get access to a product with cannabidiol. Specifically, Dunne has spent quite a lot time trying to regulate synthetic cannabis. Both he and Kelly are aware that many people support legalisation for medical use, such as parents of children with brain tumours or elderly people that suffer from arthritis and that are consumed by opiates. In 2012 an internet campaign was started in order to gather signatures for the same aim.

While the Cannabis Party has already committed to approving the referendum, others prefer the measure. There are those that believe that a measure of this nature would be used as a pathway to using the product for recreational purposes. Dune responds to this these types of questions saying that Kelly is “one of the thousands of New Zealanders that could benefit from medical cannabis, but have been unfairly denied it”, which amounts to a failure for the country.


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